Astros Rumors: A Couple Clubs Sniff Around on Norris

Bob Levey

Christmas in July for prospect-philes! Clubs already showing interest in Astros' starter Bud Norris.

Thanks to the hard working elves over at MLB Trade Rumors, we learn that at least a couple clubs are kicking tires on the Bud Norris wagon.

Firstly, they report Nick Cafardo's speculation that the Pirates might have some interest in the right hander after their stud lefty and former Astros World Series contender Wandy Rodriguez landed on the Disabled List with forearm tightness. It's worth noting that since this report surfaced about the Pirates' interest in Norris, the club called up 2011 first overall draft pick Gerrit Cole to take a spot in the rotation.

Cafardo suggests that the Pirates, who already began the search for an extra rotation arm, have stepped up their efforts and would have interest in acquiring Norris, who already has plenty of experience pitching against NL Central hitters. The Pirates are only four games out of the division and with a weak offense, probably recognize that success rests on the shoulders of their 3rd-in-the-NL pitching staff.

In more recent Norris news, word came out today that the Giants seek starting pitching due to the complete collapse of their own rotation. As hard as it is to imagine a rotation consisting of Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, and Ryan Vogelsong stinking, it stinks a lot. According to CBS' Danny Knobler, it has stunk so bad that the Giants are looking hard at Bud Norris and Ricky Nolasco.

Again, the Giants are a club ostensibly built on starting pitching and can not expect to remain in NL West title contention unless their 4.10 staff ERA improves.

Among starting pitchers who might be available at this year's trading deadline, a list that includes Nolasco, the Cubs' Matt Garza, Josh Johnson, and even Cliff Lee, Norris appears to be the best option when all variables are considered. His salary is low compared to those other pitchers, he has performed well this season (3.43 ERA, and steadily lowering since April), is still under team control, and has remained healthy for his entire career.

The Astros likely seek a handful of projectable prospects close to the major leagues, or perhaps a high-ceiling player or two from lower in the farm. Per TCB's jsams, the Giants do not at first glance appear to have the prospects to acquire Norris, but that does not mean a deal will not be done that could please both clubs. The Pirates likely have more options to acquire Norris, though are not likely to part with any of their high-profile young pitchers.

TCB'ers: What type of return would you like to see (realistically, please!) this summer if the Astros traded Norris?

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