If the Houston Astros ever turn it around, Bud Norris won’t be there to enjoy it.
On Wednesday, Norris, a former Round Rock Express standout and the longest-tenured Astro, was shipped to the Baltimore Orioles for two prospects and a late first-round draft choice.
“I’m excited,” Norris, a 2009 Pacific Coast League All-Star in Round Rock who spent four-plus seasons in Houston, told reporters. “I pitched well enough to be traded to a contender. The Orioles are young and good. I just want to be any piece of the puzzle.”
Houston received left-handed pitcher Josh Hader, Baltimore’s No. 5 minor-league prospect, according to mlb.com, and outfielder L.J. Hoes, who projects to be a utility type.
While the Astros continued restocking their vastly improved farm system, the Rangers were unable to complete any last-minute shopping.
Texas made a major deal in the run-up to the non-waiver trade deadline — snagging starting pitcher Matt Garza from the Cubs for four prospects last week — but the team desired a big-time right-handed bat. Or two.
The Rangers are ninth in the American League in scoring, and their need for offense soon will become more acute if slugging outfielder Nelson Cruz is, as expected, suspended by Major League Baseball for his role in the Biogenesis drug scandal.
If Cruz can’t play, Texas would have holes in right field and left field, plus at designated hitter, where the injured Lance Berkman is weighing retirement. And Mitch Moreland is scuffling at first base, too.
The Rangers’ ideal scenario was to snatch Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton or perhaps Colorado’s Michael Cuddyer, but neither was made available. Former Rangers Michael Young and Marlon Byrd, along with Alex Rios, were offered, but the team had limited interest.
Texas could still make a move in August, when players have to pass through waivers before being traded. Those with unattractive contracts, such as Rios and Young, will be there for the taking.
Minnesota outfielder Josh Willingham is a player Texas likes who could clear waivers once he recovers from a knee injury.
Norris, 28, was 6-9 with a 3.93 ERA for Houston, the worst team in the majors. His $3 million salary was the team’s highest. Norris is 34-46 for his career with a 4.33 ERA and is seen as a solid No. 4 or No. 5 starter.
Hader, 19, has a 2.65 ERA in 17 Single-A starts, allowing just 67 hits in 85 innings. Hoes, 23, a former third-round pick, is batting .304 at Triple-A with three homers and 40 RBIs.
Houston also traded outfielder Justin Maxwell (.214, 2 HR, 8 RBIs in 40 games) to Kansas City for Single-A pitcher Kyle Smith, a 2011 fourth-round pick who is 5-4 with a 2.85 ERA.
In other significant deals:
- Starting pitcher Jake Peavy (8-4, 4.28) was the centerpiece of a three-team deal late Tuesday, going from the White Sox to the Red Sox. The Tigers also were involved, sending top outfield prospect Avisail Garcia to the White Sox and landing shortstop Jose Iglesias from the Red Sox. Iglesias, batting .330, serves as protection if Jhonny Peralta is suspended for his role in the Biogenesis scandal.
- Arizona traded starter Ian Kennedy (3-8, 5.23), two years removed from a 21-4 season, to San Diego for lefty reliever Joe Thatcher (3-1, 2.10), Double-A prospect Matt Stites (2-2, 2.08) and a second-round pick.
- The Angels swapped infielder Alberto Callaspo (.252, 36 RBIs) to Oakland for Triple-A second baseman Grant Green (.325, 50 RBIs), a former No. 1 pick.