MLB Trade Rumors: Texas Rangers Want Derek Norris, Jonathan Lucroy

MLB trade rumors have the Texas Rangers interested in catcher Derek Norris. Prior Rangers trade rumors had linked the team to Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, but a report from the Dallas Morning News states that a trade for Derek Norris of the San Diego Padres is more likely. The change in direction could be due to the difference in salaries that the two catchers command.

For the 2016 MLB season, Norris will make about $2.9 million, compared to the $4 million that Lucroy will earn. Lucroy also has a team option worth $5.25 million for the 2017 MLB season that has a $25,000 buyout. Norris could get more expensive in the future, though, as he has two more arbitration years left before he becomes a free agent.

Both catchers were on MLB All-Star teams in 2014, raising the value that the Brewers and Padres are likely to find in the trade market. The Brewers and Padres are also rebuilding again, which is why so many previous trade rumors have included Norris and Lucroy. It was expected that the players would be dealt before Spring Training started, but that hasn’t been the case yet.

Lucroy Hits Home Run

During the 2015 MLB season, Derek Norris played 147 games for the San Diego Padres. He posted a.250 batting average, 14 home runs, and 62 RBIs while splitting time between catcher and first base. Jonathan Lucroy saw a fall off in production as he struggled through several injuries. He played in 103 games for the Milwaukee Brewers, posting a.264 average, seven home runs, and 43 RBIs. During his time in Milwaukee, Lucroy has a career.282 batting average and.770 OPS to his credit.

It’s intriguing that the Texas Rangers keep popping up in so many MLB trade rumors about catchers, as the team does have Robinson Chirinos as a starter. The front office in Texas apparently wants to add depth to the roster so as to not overwork Chirinos. Currently, the backup catching options for the Rangers are Chris Gimenez, Michael McKenry, and Bobby Wilson. Those aren’t names that inspire confidence in fans, leading to the rumors floating around the league.

Derek Norris is very expendable for the San Diego Padres, as the team also has Austin Hedges and Christian Bethancourt. Both young catchers have ranked in the MLB top 100 prospects, giving the team a lot of depth at the position. While neither has proven anything at the Major League level, the team may be forced to include both on its 25-man roster at the end of MLB Spring Training. This puts a clock on dealing Norris before the regular season begins, and it’s one that the Rangers know is ticking down.

While the Texas Rangers are mentioned prominently in MLB trade rumors about both catchers, it hasn’t been indicated what the franchise is willing to offer in return. If the Padres or Brewers offer to pay part of the contract in a trade, it could increase the value of a returning prospect. The Rangers have already exceeded payroll projections for the 2016 MLB season, primarily due to the surprise signing of free agent shortstop Ian Desmond. Desmond will make $8 million for next season before becoming a free agent once again.

Derek Norris Catching

The current payroll for the Texas Rangers is estimated at $157.2 million for the 2016 MLB season. The highest paid players on the roster are Cole Hamels at $23.5 million, Shin-Soo Choo at $20 million, Prince Fielder at $18 million, and Adrian Beltre at $8 million. That puts the Rangers at the eighth-highest payroll in all of Major League Baseball, just behind the estimated $162 million of the Los Angeles Angels and $161.6 million of the Chicago Cubs. If the current MLB trade rumors about acquiring a catcher lead to something, the Rangers might just move up that list.

[Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images]