What happened. The St. Louis Cardinals have agreed to terms with free agent RHP Bud Norris on a one-year, $3 million deal plus incentives to join their bullpen (credit to original reporting from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal). RHP Rowan Wick has been designed for assignment to make room on the 40 man roster.
The story. The Cardinals have been on the hunt for additional bullpen help, the addition of Norris gives them another veteran arm.
The numbers. Bud Norris, 32, posted a 4.21 ERA over 62 innings last season in 3 starts and 57 relief appearances for the Los Angeles Angels. He was also 19-for-23 in save opportunities for the Angels last season.
Norris pitched well early in 2017, carrying a 2.23 ERA into the All Star Break, but struggled in the second half with knee inflammation which saw his ERA balloon. He had a 7.01 ERA in the second half. He did finish out the season strong, making two spot starts for the Angels and throwing a combined 6.1 innings, allowing 1 run on 5 hits.
Rowan Wick, 25, was drafted in the 9th round of the 2012 draft by the Cardinals as a catcher. After three rough seasons, he tried be the next Jason Motte and make the transition to pitcher. Early returns were good, but he struggled in Memphis last year. Overall he posted a 3.19 ERA in 42.1 relief innings between Memphis, Springfield, and the Gulf Coast League.
The impact. 5/10. The impact is more because it solidifies the eight men who should be headed to New York for the season opener against the Mets than the impact that I feel Norris can bring to the table.
Norris, he of #BudChuck fame, originally made the Angels club last season as a long reliever before injuries pushed him into the closer’s role. He posted a 3.60 ERA over 35 innings and 38 appearances as the Angels’ closer, going 18-for-19 in saves over that stretch before the team’s original closer returned to the job.
Even that was front heavy. In his first two and a half months as the Angels’ closer he had a 1.57 ERA, but the final three months the knee injury came into play and he had a 12.79 ERA, including a pair of games where he allowed walk off grand slams, taking the hit for all four earned runs both times.
As far as the guys going north, I feel like you had Matthew Bowman, John Brebbia, Brett Cecil, Luke Gregerson, Dominic Leone, Tyler Lyons, and Sam Tuivailala locked in to the seven main spots with an eighth spot still in play. The addition of Norris likely puts him in that spot with John Gant and Ryan Sherriff as the next man up until Alex Reyes is ready to arrive where needed.
Wick might still have a future, as he won’t be done. With such a late transition to pitcher, he is behind the eight ball, so to speak, but he has done well in his second time around at each level. He struggled in Double-A in 2016, but was strong there in 2017. He struggled in Triple-A in 2017, and perhaps this is the year he puts it together there.