Baseball

Daniel Norris Elects Free Agency

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Left-hander Daniel Norris has cleared waivers and elected free agency, per an announcement by the Guardians. Norris was designated for assignment by Cleveland earlier this week to make room for catcher Zack Collins on the 40-man roster.

Norris, 30, is in his veteran currently in the midst of his tenth major league season. Initially selected in the second round of the 2011 draft by the Blue Jays, Norris spent the first several seasons of his career primarily as a starting pitcher, drawing starts in 82 of his 97 appearances between 2014 and 2019. During that time, Norris was a roughly average arm for the Blue Jays and Tigers. His 4.54 ERA clocked in just 1% below league average by measure of ERA+ and was largely backed up by his 4.47 FIP. That being said, Norris eclipsed 100 innings just twice during this period.

Those low innings counts resulted in Norris moving to a relief role starting with the shortened 2020 season, to fairly mixed results. His debut campaign as a reliever went quite well, with a 3.25 ERA (140 ERA+) and an even better 2.87 FIP. He struck out a solid 24.1% of batters faced, while his 6% walk rate was the lowest of his career. Norris struggled in both 2021 and 2022, however, combining for a 5.68 ERA and 5.01 FIP in 97 appearances for the Cubs, Tigers, and Brewers.

Those struggles led Norris to latch on with the Guardians on a minor league deal prior to the 2023 campaign, to familiarly mixed results. While he’s performed acceptably in limited chances with the big league club this year, notching a 3.38 ERA in 10 2/3 innings of work, he carries an untenable walk rate of 21.2% in the big leagues this year, leaving him with a 5.98 FIP. While he’s posted a more manageable 10.8% walk rate in 53 innings at Triple-A this year, his 5.60 ERA at the level doesn’t provide much reason for confidence as Norris returns to free agency.

Despite those rather glaring concerns, it seems reasonable to expect Norris to find a spot somewhere on a minor league deal. With the trade deadline having come and gone, pitching depth is a constantly sought-after commodity, particularly in the days leading up to September, at which point players added to the organization are no longer eligible to participate in the postseason.

As for the Guardians, the club has plenty of left-handed options available to them for the stretch run, including Sam Hentges, Tim Herrin, and Joey Cantillo all on the 40-man roster. Amir Garrett and Randy Labaut are also upper-level depth options the club has at its disposal, though either one would require a 40-man roster move to make use of at the big league level.

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