WASHINGTON (AP) — Just 3½ months after trading for Derek Norris and penciling him in as their starting catcher, the Washington Nationals released him on Wednesday.
Norris became expendable in February, when the Nationals signed four-time All-Star catcher Matt Wieters.
By releasing Norris ahead of a deadline later this week, the Nationals owe him $688,525 in termination pay, instead of his full $4.2 million salary for 2017. Had the club released him later in spring training, the termination pay would have increased to $1,032,787.
Originally a first-round draft pick by Washington in 2007, Norris was reacquired by the team in December via a trade with the San Diego Padres for minor league right-hander Pedro Avila.
Norris batted .186 with 14 homers and 42 RBIs with San Diego last season.
With Washington’s starting catcher in 2016, Wilson Ramos, gone after signing as a free agent with Tampa Bay, Norris was in line for the job. Until, that is, Wieters joined the Nationals as a free agent last month, signing a contract that could be worth $21 million over two years but allows the player to opt out after the first season.
“Whatever happens, happens,” Norris said when Wieters agreed to sign with Washington, “but as of right now, today, I’m going out and I want to start opening day and start every single day. Obviously that’s probably not going to be the way things pan out, but that’s the kind of player I am and always will be.”
At the time, manager Dusty Baker indicated that it was likely that the Nationals would try to trade Norris, although, Baker said, “you don’t want to just give him away.”
But in the end, that’s exactly what Washington did — give Norris away by releasing him. Norris now can sign with any club.
He hit .353 with two homers and three RBIs in 17 at-bats over nine appearances in spring training with the Nationals.
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum in New York contributed to this report.
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