We’ve heard the Pittsburgh Pirates connected to starting pitcher Matt Garza. Today the news came out that the Chicago Cubs were asking for final offers on Garza, and the Rangers are the most motivated. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Rangers end up landing Garza, which is what I predicted the other day. Jeff Passan mentions that if they don’t get Garza, they’ve been in on Houston Astros starter Bud Norris.
Should Rangers not get Garza, sources say they've been in on Bud Norris. Other teams in on Norris: Pirates, Dodgers, Jays, Giants and more.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 18, 2013
As you can see in that tweet, Passan says the Pirates have also been in on Norris, along with several other teams. To the trade value calculator!
NOTE: The purpose here isn’t to suggest the Pirates are offering this amount for these players. The purpose is to see the value of these players, using projected values (calculated as [(WAR*$5 M) - Salary]) and prospect trade values. We use our updated values for top 100 prospects, and Victor Wang’s research on prospect values for non-top 100 prospects. Also check out our values for the prospects in the Pirates system to get an idea of what a deal would cost for the Pirates.
Bud Norris Trade Value
|Year||Salary||WAR||FA Value||Surplus Value|
Finding the Value: It’s always tough finding the value for guys like Norris. He’s under team control through the 2015 season, and is eligible for arbitration two more times. He’s also young and his numbers this year are better than any other year. Is that a sign of good luck, or a breakout from the 28-year-old? For the salary I went with a $1.5 M increase each year through arbitration. Norris doesn’t have amazing stuff, so he’s probably not getting a huge raise. Keep in mind that if he’s projected for more than this, the surplus value would go down accordingly. Norris has a 2.1 WAR so far this season, but his previous three years have been 1.6, 1.6, and 1.4. I went with a 2.0 WAR, which might be high considering this is the only year he’s reached that. Again, if you think it’s lower, then the surplus value would be lower. The $12.3 M value would probably be the maximum for Norris.
What He’s Worth: At his maximum value, Norris is worth a 51-100 pitching prospect and a Grade B hitter, or a 51-100 hitting prospect and a Grade C pitcher. Or if you go quantity it would be two Grade B hitters and a Grade C pitcher. If you think the deal should be lowered, due to a lower WAR, then you’re not removing much. A 1.8 WAR per year puts him around $10 M, which would be a 51-100 pitcher/Grade C pitcher, or a 51-100 hitter, or two Grade B hitters. Or there’s the quantity approach of a Grade B hitter and two Grade C pitchers in that scenario. Of course the Astros would probably just want anyone who hails from the state of Texas.
Analysis: I don’t think pitching is a big need for the Pirates. The current rotation is A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, Jeff Locke, Gerrit Cole, and Charlie Morton. If you look at the advanced numbers for Norris, he’s not a big upgrade over any of those guys. Norris has a 4.35 xFIP this year. That’s worse than Morton (4.18), Cole (3.80), and even Jeanmar Gomez (4.17).
The big advantage Norris provides is that he’s under control for two more years. If Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez don’t return next year, that could be valuable. The Pirates would be left with Liriano, Locke, Cole, and Morton to start the 2014 season, and Liriano/Morton would be gone in 2015.
Norris isn’t a bad pitcher, but he’s not a great pitcher. He’s pretty much a league average guy, with a career 4.03 xFIP. He used to have some impressive strikeout numbers, but paired that with horrible control. Now his control has improved, but the strikeouts have dropped about 2-3 K/9. The drop in strikeouts was largely my argument against the Wandy Rodriguez trade, but he showed he could still be effective striking out around six per nine innings. I think Norris could still be effective, but he’s going to be more of a good number four starter and his value will come from the innings he covers.
If you’re talking about giving up a top 100 prospect, or a few Grade B prospects, I don’t think I’d do the deal since Norris doesn’t fill a big need and doesn’t provide an immediate upgrade. If you’re talking about a lesser deal with a Grade B and two Grade C prospects (kind of like the Wandy Rodriguez deal), that might be a little better. Either way I think the value that Norris provides is that he would give the Pirates innings for the rest of the year (which could be valuable if they have to turn to their depth like the first half) and he gives them another starter in 2014-15 when their current veteran starters leave. It seems Norris would help the 2014-15 teams more than the 2013 team.