Norris heads to Orioles in Deadline deal
Astros get prospects Hoes and Hader, Competitive Balance pick
BALTIMORE -- After weeks of speculation morphed into days of rumors and a full 24 hours in limbo, pitcher Bud Norris stayed exactly where he was. Baltimore, that is.
The Orioles traded for Houston's coveted right-hander in the final hour before Wednesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline and will start Norris in Thursday's series finale against the Astros.
"The trade is exciting," said Norris who was swapped for outfielder L.J. Hoes, left-handed pitching prospect Josh Hader and a Competitive Balance Draft pick. "My name has been swirling for a while now, so I've been prepared for it. ... I pitched my way into this situation to be traded and help out a team. This team is a young club, they know how to contend. They had an amazing year last year. I just want to be any piece of the puzzle I can to help this team keep pushing ourselves to the World Series."
The addition of Norris is the O's third pitching acquisition this month, and the 28-year-old joins Scott Feldman and reliever Francisco Rodriguez as recent additions as third-place Baltimore tries to keep pace in the American League East.
"You never want to give up young players in a deal, but the urgency is to have the team competitive and continue toward the playoffs," executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said. "We valued highly the two local kids we gave in the trade, and it was very difficult to do that. But in light of where the team is and what we're trying to accomplish, we thought we'd take a run at it."
Asked about how proud he is of the organization's moves this past month, Duquette said the proof will be in the pudding, and added that a big factor in getting Norris is that he's not a short-term rental but under team control through 2015.
"We think he can help our team, but the added benefit is he can also be with our team next year and the year after, which I think was an important component of our considerations to make the trade," Duquette said of Norris, who was the Astros' highest-paid player at a $3 million salary this season. "And the acquisition cost was increased because of that. It isn't just a 10-start trial. It's something where he can be with us beyond the season."
Norris was 6-9 with a 3.93 ERA in 21 starts for the Astros and was scratched from his scheduled start Tuesday in Baltimore, furthering the inevitable trade talk. He has made 13 quality starts and was one of the top available arms on the market.
"He's competitive, a strike thrower. He has a nice approach," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Norris. "He's been healthy, and he competes. I like that fact that he gets after it. He'll have some challenges ahead of him, but he's not the only guy that's got to do well for us to be more competitive."
Norris will slot into the O's rotation, which is down a man given Wednesday's decision to place struggling starter Jason Hammel on the disabled list. Asked if Hammel's injury of right flexor mass tightness played a part in Baltimore's pursuit of Norris, Duquette said, "I think it's important to have depth through the rotation. If we're going to play the kind of ball we need to play to get in the playoffs, we need dependable starters."
In 119 career games, all but one which have been starts, Norris is 34-46 with a 4.33 ERA.
Hoes, who MLB.com ranked as the seventh-best Orioles prospect, was scheduled to start in left field for Baltimore on Wednesday and moved over to bat second and man right field for Houston several hours later.
"My mind's just racing," said Hoes, who found out of the trade on Twitter. "I kind of got my dream come true the other day, getting to start for the hometown team. Now, getting traded and going to the opposite dugout and locker room, I'm going to be able to make another start tonight and play against the Orioles. It's different. I never saw it coming, but it's part of the game, it's part of life, so I've just got to keep it moving."
Hoes has appeared in three big league games over the last two seasons and, along with Hader, was viewed favorably in the organization. But the team's necessity to help strengthen the starting rotation gives Hoes a new home and more projected playing time.
"I look at it as a positive thing," Hoes said. "This is a key piece they feel like can help in getting them over the hump. Knowing that another team values you that much to give up one of the keys pieces on their team to acquire you and help them build a future [is good]. So I'm going to go over there in Houston, hopefully work hard and go over there and start winning some games and make it to the playoffs [in] a couple years."
Hader, selected in the 19th round of last year's Draft, went 3-6 with a 2.65 ERA in 17 starts for the team's Class A affiliate in Delmarva, Md. A Millersville native, the 19-year-old Hader was already ranked as the team's 13th-best prospect.
Duquette -- who traded for Joe Saunders after last year's Trade Deadline passed -- will continue to scour the waiver wire for ways to improve the club, but he was hopeful the team's activity to date will help the Orioles down the stretch.
"There's a premium on pitching, and the teams that are in the race, they're trying to fuel their chances to get to the playoffs," he said. "We got a couple of starters to help us, and we bolstered our bullpen. And hopefully they'll do the job we brought them here to do."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.