Upon dealing away a budding ace in Gio Gonzalez, the Oakland Athletics sought to shore up a number of positions in a single deal. The haul for Gio from the Washington Nationals included a young catcher by the name of Derek Norris, along with the soft tossing lefty Tommy Milone, right hander Brad Peacock and the high ceiling young right hander A.J. Cole. Cole was thought to be the prize of the deal, though he was far away from making an impact at the Major League level. Milone was MLB ready, and Derek Norris was thought to be a solid offensive catcher in the making.
Sep 27, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Oakland Athletics catcher Derek Norris (36) hits an RBI-double against the Seattle Mariners during the eighth inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
As we site here post-2013, assessing all aspects of the organization, A.J. Cole is back with the Nats, having been dealt back in the John Jaso deal, Tommy Milone is on the outside looking in of the starting rotation, and Derek Norris has established himself as the A’s primary right handed catcher. No matter what one thinks about the dynamic on this roster of platooning everywhere possible, Norris has shown the ability to hit at the big league level, and make the necessary adjustments to be successful in his role.
Norris’ numbers were not gaudy by any means, hitting .246/..345/.409 in 308 plate appearances, but oftentimes any offense from your catcher can be considered a bonus save for a few exceptions around the league. Norris tortured left handers though to the tune of .320/.410/.580 clip in 173 plate appearances. Those numbers are what make the .149/.261/.184 line in 135 PA against right handers so frustrating. If he could simply improve to somewhere in the neighborhood of average hitting against right handers, the A’s would really have something.
Surely, Norris will be working incredibly hard to improve his ability against right handers during the offseason. As much as platoons and splits are nice, if you can get a single player who can play a position everyday no matter who the starting pitcher is, that is preferable. There is that chance with Derek Norris, and the A’s need to do everything in their power to nurture his development in the coming year.
Derek Norris is the future of the Athletics, if nothing else because there aren’t any other legitimate candidates to take the job from him coming down the pipeline. Norris can’t be held to the standard of a Yadier Molina or Buster Posey, those guys are in a league of their own. But, he can turn himself into a useful and valuable asset to the Oakland Athletics for now, and for the future.