The offseason is a time when roster rumours swirl at a constant pace. One of the latest around the Blue Jays is that they were a finalist for the services of catcher, Derek Norris.
The Blue Jays have had a busy offseason, having to replace some key stars with new acquisitions, and also re-upping with a franchise icon like Jose Bautista. There have been several dominoes that have determined the roster decisions, and many times we aren’t privy to moves that almost happened.
In that column, Robert Murray of FanRag sports reported that the Blue Jays were among the finalists for Derek Norris, who signed with the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday. Norris is a catcher and first baseman who spent last season with the San Diego Padres.
According to Murray, his sources confirmed that the Blue Jays had offered more money than the Rays, but the opportunity for playing time ultimately swayed Norris to the Rays. This makes sense, as Russell Martin will be getting the lion’s share of starts at catcher for the Blue Jays, and it would take an injury for that to change any time soon.
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His fit on the Blue Jays roster would have made some sense though, but it also would have had a trickle down effect on those expected to make the Opening Day roster. First and foremost, Jarrod Saltalamacchia would likely have started the season in Triple A, or left for another opportunity. For those who’ve forgotten, his contract is of the MiLB variety, so the Blue Jays didn’t make him any promises, that we know of.
Norris also likely would have garnered some time at first base, which could have meant a few things. As it stands now, the job appears to be between Justin Smoak and Steve Pearce, depending on how the Jays choose to employ Pearce, who is also capable of playing in the corner outfield spots. There’s a good chance that if Norris had signed in Toronto, we may have seen the last of Justin Smoak.
It also tells us a little bit about what the Blue Jays think of their in-house options at the moment. While there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic, GM’s don’t continue shopping in late March unless they feel they’ve got an unfinished puzzle. The acquisition of Norris would have strengthened the catching depth (especially on the defensive side), brought another solid bat to the roster who is capable of manning first base, and allowed Pearce to slide around to where he’s needed most.
It also tells us that the Blue Jays aren’t opposed to spending a bit more money, even if it’s on a smaller contract. Norris settled on a 1 year, 1 million dollar deal with the Rays, and can earn up to 800,000 more in incentives. The Blue Jays reportedly beat that number, so we know there are a couple bucks left to spend, especially if his signing would have sent someone like Smoak and his contract, elsewhere.
It’s possible the Blue Jays stand pat now that Norris is off the table, but with the Angel Pagan rumours refusing to go away, it’ll be a situation worth monitoring as we enter the final week before Opening Day.