This is NOT the big time trade that many see it as. This is a trade that is getting hype because of the lack of quality players, and pitchers specifically, left on the trade market. Bud Norris was always probably the 3rd or 4th best available starting pitcher that was going to be on the trade market…but it was a steep drop after the Chicago pitchers got traded and Cliff Lee was seen as unattainable. Regardless though, the Houston Astros have traded RHP Bud Norris to the Baltimore Orioles for OF L.J. Hoes, LHP Josh Hader and a compensation round pick (only tradeable picks in MLB).
That doesn’t mean that this trade isn’t worthwhile. Bud Norris is a quality right handed innings eater that also has the potential to allow his stuff to play up in a post-season bullpen. He is more of a #4/#5 pitcher on a championship caliber team and his peripheral stats show it. He has a fairly weak 6.4 K/9 and a high (though lowest for his career) 3.1 BB/9. He doesn’t walk league high amounts, but when put in comparison to his strikeouts, he walks too many per start. That combined with his arsenal are why Norris is not considered an impact arm at the deadline.
However, the trade deadline isn’t all about winning a world series, Norris does give the Orioles a solid arm to compete every 5th day at the back of the rotation and finish out the pennant race to get them into the playoffs safely. After that, Norris can provide quality in the bullpen in case a starter gets injured early in a start in the playoffs. That would save the shorter stamina relievers and allow them to pitch their normal programs for the rest of that series.
In return for their “ace” the Houston Astros received OF L.J. Hoes, Baseball America’s #6 prospect in the Orioles system. This could be the immediate and long-term replacement at a corner OF spot for now for the Astros as they don’t have a lot of great corner OF talent near the majors. Hoes reportedly has great bat-to-ball skills and can hit line drives to all fields with a nice batting eye. The problem is that his power hasn’t developed and at 6’0″ 190 it isn’t a guarantee despite being very young. Hoes hit .300/.374/.397 at Triple-A in 2012 with 317 plate appearances.
LHP Josh Hader is unpolished, young and dripping with potential. The problem with that is very little of it has been actualized in his professional career. Hader came into the minors as a young high school arm that threw in the mid 80’s from the left side, but has lately been able to hit 94 on the radar gun. That jump in velocity bodes well for his future as a 94 MPH left-handed pitcher is a valuable commodity in MLB. While he is an extremely high risk prospect because of how little he has shown, he has the upside to develop into a mid rotation starter which would be a coup for this trade.
In the end, this was the only deadline deal and the trade deadline ended up being quiet yet again as teams feel out the new CBA and the new wild card spot. This return for a #4/#5 starter is still a good haul when the compensation pick is taken into account. If GM Jeff Luhnow didn’t think of it, then he has the Arizona Diamondbacks to thank for the idea of a compensation pick to finalize this deadline deal.