As we take a look at the pitchers who are about to report for the Houston Astros Spring Training, we can pretty easily divide them into two groups: Those who are Bud Norris, and those who are not Bud Norris.
The ones who are Bud Norris are pretty easy to spot. They're the ones wearing the #20 jersey and a big bullseye.
David Stefan "Bud" Norris has pitched almost 564 innings as a Houston Astro. Combined, the rest of the pitchers in camp have pitched almost 908 innings as Houston Astros, and almost half of those innings were thrown by Lucas Harrell or Jordan Lyles.
In 2013, Bud Norris will earn three million dollars. Pick any two other Astros not named Carlos Pena, and there's a better-than-even chance that Bud Norris makes more than they do combined.
Additionally, Bud Norris is about to turn 28 years old, and when the Astros become competitive, he will be on the wrong side of thirty.
So it stands to reason that Bud Norris is being considered the likeliest Astro trade piece left. In fact, it's not much of a stretch to say that Norris is the only trade piece left on the Houston Astros roster. He's been linked to several teams in the past: The Cardinals, Orioles, Padres, and Royals.
I wouldn't be surprised to see the Cardinals get him - if only so that he never ever ever has to pitch against them again, but the Padres make a lot of sense to me, too. Petco Park, even with the new dimensions, looks like a place where he could thrive - plus, the Padres have a ton of depth in their system, especially in the area of pitching. If Luhnow could get a high-ceiling arm in the vein of Walker Weickel or Zach Eflin, I certainly wouldn't complain.
Norris struck out almost a batter an inning in 2012, going 7-13 with a 4.12 xFIP. He's certainly a very serviceable pitcher, even if his flyball/strikeout style doesn't quite match up well with his current home park. Most projection systems - Steamer, Oliver, Bill James, ZiPS - think that 2013 is going to be among his best seasons. His value may never be as high as it is right now.
If the Lowrie trade did nothing, it made it clear(er) that the Astros are not interested in wins in 2013. What they're interested in is building a corps of young players who can, together, compete in the future. It seems unlikely that Bud Norris is going to be in that corps, and so if Jeff Luhnow can get players who might be part of that corps by trading Bud Norris, then by God, Jeff Luhnow is going to trade Bud Norris.