No matter how many times the rumors shifted from one player to the next, from one organization to the next, the Orioles never lost sight of Astros right-hander Bud Norris as the non-waiver trade deadline approached.
He was a pitcher they had targeted, a pitcher under team control through the 2015 season who could solidify a rotation that was putting too much stress on the bullpen.
The asking price was high. It gave some executives nose bleeds.
The Orioles wouldn't part with Double-A pitchers Eduardo Rodriguez and Mike Wright, among others. Talks continued between the two sides, contrary to some reports, and they eventually settled on Triple-A outfielder LJ Hoes, Single-A left-hander Josh Hader and a 2014 competitive balance pick.
You fill a room with baseball people, and half will say it's a mistake to part with Hader, whose velocity and stock made a significant jump in a short amount of time. The other half will say you take the proven major leaguer over a low Single-A pitcher a year removed from high school.
They all would probably wonder why they were in the same room, but I digress...
Norris went 4-3 with a 4.80 ERA in 11 games (nine starts) with the Orioles, with 61 hits, 24 walks and 57 strikeouts in 50 2/3 innings. He was bothered by a sore right elbow. He also was bothered by left-handers, who batted .315 against him.
Norris didn't complete six innings in six of his last seven starts. He posted a 7.30 ERA in five home starts after the Orioles traded for him.
Hoes batted .287/.337/.371 with seven doubles, two triples, a home run, 10 RBIs and seven stolen bases in eight attempts with the Astros. Hader, 19, went 2-0 with a 3.22 ERA in five starts with low Single-A Quad Cities, allowing 14 hits, walking 12 and striking out 16 in 22 1/3 innings. He didn't give up a home run.
Combined with his 17 starts at Single-A Delmarva, Hader went 5-6 with a 2.77 ERA, 81 hits, 54 walks and 95 strikeouts in 107 1/3 innings. Opponents batted .209 against him.
Quad Cities won the Midwest League title, with Hader striking out eight batters in seven scoreless innings in the decisive game. The Old Mill High graduate started the opener of the Bandits' second-round series against Beloit and allowed one run and three hits over seven innings. He registered a 0.64 ERA in the playoffs.
The Astros have no regrets.
If Hoes was going to stick with the Orioles, it would have been as a fourth or fifth outfielder. He's in a perfect situation in Houston. Good for him.
Hader is the one who could come back to bite them. We may not know for quite some time, considering his age and how he hasn't pitched above low Single-A. And let's see what Norris does in 2014 and beyond, and whether the Orioles hold onto him through the length of his contract.
We'll have to revisit this trade to determine its grade, but I was surprised that the Orioles included Hader in it.
Not that I would have parted with Rodriguez or Wright.
Just trying to grow the arms here.