It is no secret that the San Diego Padres have two quality catchers on their major league roster. Derek Norris and Austin Hedges split time most of last year, but the younger Hedges seems to have blossomed with the bat recently. With his newly formed confidence at the plate, the Padres are now surely tempted to move him or Norris while both seem to have great value.
Christian Bethancourt was acquired from the Atlanta Braves for Casey Kelly and that further complicated the situation for the Padres. Bethancourt is out of major league options and has to remain on the Padres team. He looks to be the backup catcher, but the question is: will the Padres keep Norris as the starter and send Hedges to Triple-A or will they try to deal Derek Norris and name Austin Hedges the starter? Anything can happen.
A.J. Preller traded for Derek Norris and Hedges was a draftee from the previous regime. So there are some thoughts Preller would like to keep Norris, but Hedges tools on defense are certainly something that the Padres GM covets from a back stop. The Padres in all likelihood have taken offers on both, but Norris probably has drawn the most interest.
The Padres catching depth will eventually lead to a deal. That is a given. The team has two viable major league catchers and the position as a whole is very weak in the game of baseball. There are several teams that would look at either Padres catcher as an upgrade. Norris is known for his offense, but his defense has definitely picked up over the last few years. He is a great pitch framer and is not afraid to work on his craft. Norris is still only 27 years old, too. He has a tremendous upside and is beloved in the locker room for his leadership abilities.
Hedges has a gold glove caliber glove right now but his bat has been slow to progress. He has shown signs of life this spring (4-14 with two homers) but still needs to develop more consistency at the plate to be able to stick in the major leagues. Even so at the age of 23, Hedges has plenty of time on his side and his defense will only get better with time. That in itself is a scary thing to think about.
We have already speculated the Rangers would be a great fit. No coincidence that the day after our article came out there came a piece from the Rangers beat writer Evan Grant that the two teams have indeed had discussions regarding Norris. The two teams match up well in a potential deal as the Rangers have many young prospects who fit the Padres’ needs. There are other teams that have interest in Norris though, and the Houston Astros are definitely one of them.
The Padres and Astros have had trade discussions within the last year mostly regarding Craig Kimbrel. The two teams never came to an agreement, but perhaps they could revisit their negotiations for either Derek Norris or Austin Hedges. The Astros are a team poised to go deep into the playoffs. They have a solid young core of players, but they lack a long-term solution at catcher. The Padres could provide that.
Derek Norris seems like a better fit (than Hedges) for the Astros as he brings them offensive punch and is a great compliment to the left-handed hitter Castro (current Astros catcher). The two catchers platooned correctly could be a very nice offensive force for the Astros. Hedges just doesn’t have the value that Norris does as well and it seems likely if a catcher is dealt, it will be Norris. But can these two clubs get a deal done?