The Nationals’ logjam at catcher loosened Wednesday morning when they gave Derek Norris his unconditional release. The team announced the move on Twitter.
Norris was acquired from San Diego in a Dec. 2 trade for minor-league pitcher Pedro Avila. His future with the team became suddenly clouded when it signed Matt Wieters to a one-year, $10.5 million contract Feb. 24.
Norris was touted as a “bounceback candidate” by Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo following the trade. Norris was in line for such a label because of his scuffling season in San Diego in 2016. He hit .186 with a .583 OPS.
Before releasing Norris, the Nationals tried to find a trade partner for him. Though, each team in the league knew the Nationals’ situation — they were overstocked at catcher and Wieters would start — dissolving any leverage Washington had a in a trade deal.
Washington needed a starting catcher after All-Star Wilson Ramos, who was set to become a free agent and had turned down an in-season extension offer from the team, tore the ACL in his right knee Sept. 26, 2016. Ramos became a free agent who dealt with a depressed market because of the injury.
The Nationals retained backup catcher Jose Lobaton and traded for Norris before signing Wieters — notably a Scott Boras client — after spring training began. Wieters, who turns 31 next week, is a career .256 hitter who hit 17 home runs in 124 games last season for the Baltimore Orioles.
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