WASHINGTON — The Washington Nationals’ pitching batter continued to take shape this weekend, as the Nationals made decisions on both catcher Derek Norris and ace Max Scherzer.
Just 100 days after acquiring him in a trade with the San Diego Padres, the Nats placed Norris on waiver, likely ending his second stint with the team. The move to acquire him happened early in free agency and required minimal investment as the team waited out Matt Wieters.
After acquiring Wieters last month, Norris took the move in stride, but acknowledged that this might cost him his job. Now, the move has been confirmed by MLB insider Jon Heyman, who says the team will be on the hook for only about $700,000 if they are forced to cut Norris before March 15.
There is still an opportunity for another team to claim Norris and work out a trade, or simply release him without compensation. As Heyman points out, the Royals are likely in the market for someone after Salvador Perez was lost to injury in the World Baseball Classic.
Either way, Norris’ second stint with the Nats is all but over. The rest is just paperwork.
The Nats still have Wieters, Jose Lobaton and prospect Pedro Severino on the Major League roster. Lobaton was the team’s backup for most of last season, and Severino got quality experience after Wilson Ramos tore his ACL. He still has options remaining and will likely head to AAA to start the season.
On the other side of plate, the Nats got good news in a simulated game thrown by Scherzer.
“He looked pretty sharp. Max tells you a lot in his body language,” Baker said, reporting that Scherzer threw all four pitches for strikes without discomfort in his fractured knuckle. “I don’t know how pleased he was, but he wasn’t disappointed, which is equally good.
“The main thing is we want him feeling good. If he feels good, Max is going to be Max.”
Max will also be Max on a shorter schedule, as the team looks to accelerate his timeline in hopes of getting him ready for the regular season. Scherzer will pitch in another simulated game on Thursday, looking to increase his workload to three innings on four day’s rest.
If he continues to advance without setback, he will pitch in a minor league Spring Training game before rejoining the Major League squad. If all goes well, Scherzer could still be considered for the Opening Day assignment, but that decision is still weeks away.
For now, all progress is welcome.