The Cardinals have signed reliever Bud Norris, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, as the club continues to reshape its bullpen following an inconsistent season and losses to the back-end. The deal is just for one year, per reports, and the terms aren’t yet known.
Norris, 32, saved 19 games in 23 chances last season with a 4.21 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 74 strikeouts in 62 innings last season for the Angels. He was actually very good in the first half, pitching to a 2.23 ERA and holding opponents to a .183/.272/.275 line, but he posted a 7.01 ERA in the second half. He was hampered by a knee injury in the final two months, so that was likely part of the issue.
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Norris, who played his collegiate baseball at California Tech, was originally selected by the Houston Astros in the sixth round of the 2006 MLB June Amateur Draft. He proceeded to make his big league debut in 2009 en route to appearing in 11 games and making 10 starts. During that same span, Norris went 6-3 with a 4.53 ERA, surrendering 59 hits while fanning 54 batters across 55.2 frames. The following year, Norris became an integral part of the Astros starting rotation while starting 27 contests and going 9-10 with a 4.92 ERA.
The Cardinals ended up seventh in baseball with a 3.81 bullpen ERA last season, but consistency — notably at the back-end — was an issue for much of the season. Trevor Rosenthal worked back into the closer role and started to give them some reliability, but he tore his UCL and had to have Tommy John surgery. He’s since been released by the club. Seung-hwan Oh and Juan Nicasio also spent time closing and departed via free agency.
The 2018 Cardinals closer figures to be Luke Gregerson, who was signed as a free agent. Dominic Leone was acquired in the trade of Randal Grichuk to the Blue Jays and he will join Norris and holdover Tyler Lyons as setup men for Gregerson. Lefty Brett Cecil is also a late-inning candidate.
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