It may not have been Jason Hammel, but the Angels added a starting pitcher today in the mold of Bud Norris. Norris will compete for the 5th spot in the rotation this spring with Jesse Chavez, Alex Meyer, John Lamb, Manny Banuelos, and Brooks Pounders.
Norris had a tale of two seasons last year posting a very strong 2.08 ERA with an equally strong 43-to-17 K/BB ratio in a swingman role for the Atlanta Braves in the first half. Jeff Sullivan broke down the strong results back in June with this article, citing a new cutter as a possible solution.
Then the trade to the Dodgers happened, he really struggled to give Los Angeles the injection in the arm they needed only providing an abysmal 6.54 ERA in his short tenure there. Norris will seek to regain his 2011-2014 form where he held his own with a 4.06 ERA in stints with the Astros and Orioles.
This is a solid get for the Angels, he has had his own struggles in the past two seasons, but he has shown signs of being decent-to-serviceable with strong peripherals. He had a very strong 8.12 K/9 rate in 2016 and produced a heavy 47.6% groundball rate which could work in favor of the Halos’ studly defensive middle infield that now includes Danny Espinosa at second base. That, within itself, warranted a minor league at the least. While no one is expecting him to win the 5th spot out of Spring Training, giving them another Major League arm in Salt Lake City is a huge boost for a team that has health concerns in the rotation and overall question marks in the bullpen. It’s not a flashy move and may not pay any dividends, but the Angels just got a liiiittle bit better today.
Eppler continues making moves that will increase the floor of the clubs talent level just a few days after signing Eric Young Jr. to a minor league deal without sacrificing any future financial wiggle room for another potential move. Most fans will be fixated on the prospect of Matt Wieters, Jason Hammel, or the plethora of relievers still available, but these sort of moves shouldn’t go unnoticed, Eppler certainly hasn’t let them.