If you’re an Oakland Athletics fan, you’re probably wondering when the drain of talent from your roster will end. It’s not stopping today – the club has reportedly traded All-Star catcher Derek Norris to the San Diego Padres. Minor league pitcher Seth Streich will also head to San Diego in the deal, while Jesse Hahn and R.J. Alvarez are going to Oakland.
Source: the A's have traded C Derek Norris to the Padres.
— Mark Feinsand (@FeinsandNYDN) December 19, 2014
Final deal: Oakland acquires RHPs Jesse Hahn and R.J. Alvarez for C Derek Norris, LHP Seth Streich and an international signing slot.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 19, 2014
Only two of the eight 2014 All-Stars to wear the green and gold remain Athletics – Scott Kazmir and Sean Doolittle. Considering Kazmir is a free agent after 2015 and is under contract for a relatively reasonable $13 million, it wouldn’t shock me to see him get dealt sometime in the next two months. Jon Lester left town as a free agent, Yoenis Cespedes was traded for Lester, and the trio of Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, and Jeff Samardzija were all traded this winter.
Norris came over from the Nationals in the Gio Gonzalez trade three years back, and was still a year away from entering arbitration. He had a breakout 2014 in Oakland, hitting .270/.361/.403 in 127 games. However, his performance did fall off in the second half – Norris hit just .245/.314/.324 once his mid-summer excursion to the Twin Cities ended. He’ll be paired up with Ryan Hanigan in San Diego to form the team’s backstop duo. Hanigan was acquired from the Rays in the Wil Myers trade, which also sent Rene Rivera to Tampa Bay. Fellow ex-Padre catcher Yasmani Grandal went to the Dodgers in the now-final Matt Kemp trade.
Streich will join Norris as a member of the Padres organization, though the 23-year old likely won’t have an impact as immediate as Norris. In 114 innings with high-A Stockton in 2014, Streich struck out 116 and walked just 22, pitching to a 3.16 ERA in the hitter-friendly California League.
The return for Oakland isn’t exactly peanuts, either. Alvarez came over from the Angels in the Huston Street trade, and spent most of 2014 in AA. He struck out 61 and walked 13 in 43 1/3 innings at the level, split between the Padres and Angels organizations. In the majors, he struck out nine and walked five in ten innings.
Hahn could be the real gem of this trade, however. He was acquired by the Padres last winter from the Rays in the Logan Forsythe/Alex Torres trade, and pitched very well for San Diego in 14 appearances (12 starts) at the major league level. He tossed 73 1/3 innings, notched a 3.07 ERA, tallied 70 strikeouts, and walked 32 hitters. In his first two months in the league, he pitched to a 2.01 ERA in 53 2/3 innings, striking out 54 and walking 21 before struggling late and getting shut down. Both Alvarez and Hahn should be able to slide into Oakland’s Opening Day pitching staff (Alvarez in the bullpen, Hahn in the rotation).
Out of all of the trades Billy Beane has made this winter, this one could net him the best return. He gets immediate help for his pitching staff, dealing a player that might have been carried by a strong two months in 2014.
As for the Padres, they also do well. Norris and Hanigan is arguably a better catching duo than Rivera and Grandal, and San Diego needed a more offensive minded catcher to pair with Hanigan following Grandal’s trade to the Dodgers. Considering how weak the catching free agent market is right now, picking up Norris was probably an unexpected pleasure for A.J. Preller and company.