Trade Values: Bud Norris

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.

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
2013 $3,000,000 2.0 $10,200,000 $2,400,000
2014 $4,500,000 2.0 $10,200,000 $5,700,000
2015 $6,000,000 2.0 $10,200,000 $4,200,000
TOTAL $13,500,000 6.0 $30,600,000 $12,300,000

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.


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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • Chris Hale

    Tim I agree Norris is probably not a big upgrade and probably not worth a 51-100 prospect,but his career ERA against STL is well under 3 . He could come in handy in this pennant race

  • PirateTom


  • Joe9195

    I’m not interested in him, but I do wonder what his xFIP numbers would look like with the Bucs def and shifts behind him.

    • Tim Williams

      That wouldn’t change the xFIP numbers, since those numbers remove the impact of defense.

      Also, Norris has a below average ground ball rate, so he wouldn’t benefit as much as other pitchers.

  • JimBibbySweat

    How much do the Pirates factor his career numbers against St. Louis into the equation? Even with a 7-run game against the Cards this year, Norris holds a 3.23 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and .236 OBA in 16 starts and 100.1 innings against St. Louis.

  • Bob Martin

    The Pirates are averaging 2 runs or less offensively in 35% of the first half games. They are still 17 games over .500, which should tell us that pitching isn’t our problem, it’s hitting and scoring runs. So lets up grade two position that needs more production and that’s RF and 1st base.

  • jaygray007

    i mean… i guuueeesss it’ll be worth it if they think Wandy is dead this year.

    This is a deal that’d be better next offseason than this trade deadline if Burnett and Wandy were to move on.

    Norris would be a glorified depth pick up. He puts one extra pitcher away from starting brandon cumpton in a september playoff run. But I’d rather them just get a regular depth pickup for a fraction of the price.

    He is an upgrade on nobody on the starting rotation. If they pay that price, I’d rather it be for a shorter-contracted guy who will be an upgrade and be in the small playoff rotation.

    Than again, maybe Uncle Ray can get his stuff to play back to what it used to be and he becomes a 2.5 ERA guy with 10 k/9.

  • Fred Langford

    I know this is a Bud Norris thread but Reese McGuire has gone 24 AB without striking out and only 2 Ks in last 37 AB. Raised the average to .452 today. More impressed with the contact skills than the ridiculous batting average. He also is a great 6-12 throwing out runners. He has been spectacular to start his career like no other Bucs prospect I have seen. Hope he gets a few Jamestown ABs this year.

    • PikeBishop65

      Ah let the comparisons to Chad Hermensen begin. :-)

  • jg941


  • buccotime57

    I would like to trade JT for a hitter with a 310 .337.470.807 line with 39 doubles, above average glove and an allstar with 5 years of control left…o wait…

  • Rusty Hodgkiss

    Just say no to Bud Norris….please.

  • justin14

    If any trade happens for Norris. What do you think is reasonable? Nick Kingham and Clay Holmes for Norris

    • smurph

      What? Are you kidding?

  • PiratesFan1981

    I pass, alxei Ramirez at ss. Allow mercer to play behind both walker and Ramirez. Mercer looks better at second then ss. Plus who knows if walker is going to bounce back after 2 injuries this year. It would be nice to have a back up plan because Barmes stinks.

    • Fred Langford

      I like the idea of Ramirez also.

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