After doing well in their first two trades before the deadline, the Houston Astros have finally swung and missed on a deal. This time, though, it involved the club’s most attractive trade chip: Bud Norris, a solid, better than average starting pitcher under team control for a couple more years.
The ‘Stros agreed to send Norris to Baltimore, in exchange for a pair of prospects: outfielder L.J. Hoes and left-hander Josh Hader and a competitive balance pick.
Prior to the year, I ranked Hoes and Hader as the eighth and sixteenth best prospects in the system.
About Hoes, I wrote: “[He’s] sort of a ‘tweener. He does one thing really well – getting on base – and another well enough (running). But his complete lack of power will almost assuredly relegate him to a reserve role, probably as a decent bench option against fellow right-handers, whom he’s hit .295/.374/.417 since 2011. His positional versatility helps too.”
And this season, his second in Triple-A, Hoes is putting up a typical-type year: .304/.406/.403 with a plus walk rate (13.5%), no power (.099 Isolated Power), and a little bit of speed. The problem, however, is that he’s a corner outfielder – with absolutely no power. He might have been able to squeak out a few years as a regular in center field – and maybe Houston moves him there – but there’s very little in terms of overall tools. He’s a fringe everyday regular.
About Hader, I wrote: “Big and projectable, Hader, who’s 6-foot-3 and just 160 pounds, performed far better than expected last season. But it was extremely limited data, so it could be a brief anomaly, or a sign of things to come.”
Well, it certainly looks more like the former. Not to say that he doesn’t have a shot a developing into a decent big league pitcher, but his K-rate has tumbled this season (down to 8.36 K/9) and his walk rate has spiked noticeable (4.45 BB/9). And his 2.65 ERA is 1.5 runs lower than his 4.15 Skill Independent ERA.
As for Norris, well, he isn’t a front-of-the-rotation-type guy, but he is a very good #3/#4, who isn’t scheduled for free agency until 2016.
This season, the big right-hander is having a bit of a career year, already surpassing his previous high in wins above replacement. His K-rate has also fallen a bit (8.82 K/9 in 2012 to 6.43 K/9 this year), but his command has improved.
Again, if I’m giving up a cost controlled starter like Norris, I’m at least asking for Jonathan Schoop, the club’s third best prospect.
This looks like a win for the O’s.
Photo of Bud Norris Courtesy of USATSI via CBSSports.com.