Nationals, Bud Norris Discussing Minor League Deal

3:52pm: Nationals GM Mike Rizzo tells reporters that there’s no agreement between the two sides, but Norris is headed to the team’s spring complex to evaluate him (Twitter link via Zuckerman). If the team deems him physically ready, a minor league agreement will be completed.

3:32pm: There’s no agreement in place between the two sides just yet, Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post tweets. There’s mutual interest between the two sides, but Dougherty notes that the Nats “need to be convinced that Norris is healthy enough to be effective.”

Norris and the Jays agreed to part ways last week due to the fact that he felt ready to pitch at the MLB level while the Toronto organization wanted him to continue building arm strength, so perhaps there’s a similar dynamic at play here.

2:23pm: The Nationals have agreed to a deal with right-hander Bud Norris, according to Britt Ghiroli of The Athletic (via Twitter). It’ll be a minors pact if completed, Mark Zuckerman of tweets. Norris will first need to pass a physical before a deal is finalized.

Norris will not head directly onto the active roster, but may not be far from joining a team that’s badly in need of relief. The Nats bullpen has been a mess in the early going, with all but two members of the unit carrying earned run averages north of 5 per nine.

The veteran Norris could offer a key stabilizing presence. The 34-year-old has been a solid performer since moving into a full-time relief role. Over the past two seasons, he owns a 3.91 ERA with 10.6 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 over 119 2/3 innings. Norris has compiled 47 saves in that span as well, though he won’t be expected to handle the ninth in D.C.

Norris had been expected to crack the Blue Jays pen after surprisingly settling for a minor-league deal. The Toronto org paid him a $100K retention bonus late in camp to keep him around, but ultimately released him right at the start of the season. It seems that Norris believed he was ready for the majors, while the club wanted him to keep throwing in extended camp to build his arm strength.

It’s not known how the Nats feel about the matter of Norris’s readiness. He has worked in the mid-nineties with his fastball in recent years. Like most pitchers, Norris is likelier to be successful if he has the velocity when he wants it. But the D.C. org is also in no position to turn up its nose at an experienced pitcher who isn’t quite on top of his game. Presumably, they’ll bring him onto the active roster in relatively short order so long as Norris seems mostly himself.

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