How could I not make that joke, right? The Cardinals have signed Bud Norris, per Ken Rosenthal.
Free-agent right-hander Bud Norris in agreement with #STLCards, pending a physical, sources tell The Athletic. Excelled in first half with #Angels last season, but performance suffered after right knee inflammation twice forced him to DL.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 12, 2018
The Cardinals weren’t content to let the Cubs have all the headlines this week, so they’ve splurged on 32-year-old righty Bud Norris, who … actually has become a good reliever these days.
You may remember Norris as a moderately-successful back-of-the-rotation starter with the Astros from several years back, but he recently had to reinvent himself as a reliever, and he was one of the success stories. His fastball velocity ticked up to the mid-90s, he ditched his changeup, he developed a cutter, and he had pretty darn solid peripherals last year with the Angels, including a 28.6% strikeout rate in the bullpen (10.3% BB rate).
If he’s healthy, this is probably a good signing for the Cardinals. Norris may even have back-end reliever upside at this point as he settles into a more full-time reliever role, and it wouldn’t necessarily be mere Cardinals Voodoo Magic.
I mean, it’s not Yu Darvish or any impact starter, but the Cardinals’ bullpen is, to me, still a weak spot. Adding a potential quality arm like Norris can only help.
For the offseason, the Cardinals unloaded from the outfield (Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk), added to the bullpen (Norris, Luke Gregerson, Dominic Leone), added to the rotation (Miles Mikolas), and added to the lineup (Marcell Ozuna). They should be improved in 2018. Enough to catch the Cubs? Maybe not. But the gap may be considerably smaller than the nine-game difference between the teams last year.