More thoughts on yesterday's moves and non-moves

Friday turned out to be a busy day for the Nationals, but not for the reason many were expecting.

There was no trade with the Pirates for Andrew McCutchen, not yet at least. But there was a trade with the Padres for Derek Norris. And there was the non-tendering of Ben Revere, coinciding with the tendering of Danny Espinosa.

What does it all mean in the bigger picture? Some thoughts on each of the moves (and non-moves)...

* The McCutchen trade didn't happen yesterday, which may have prompted some to question whether it ever will. The sense was that the Nationals were motivated to complete the deal before 8 p.m. because it would have set into motion the dominoes that would have guaranteed Trea Turner's move to shortstop and would have made Espinosa expendable (and likely non-tendered).

While that would have been a nice, tidy manner for all this to play out, it wasn't mandatory. And so don't assume the proposed trade is now dead.

To be sure, there remain obstacles. The Pirates are, understandably so, asking for a lot in exchange for McCutchen. And the Nationals are, understandably so, leery about giving up too much for him. That chasm may prove too large to close. But there's nothing stopping the two sides from continuing to work on getting it done, even after the non-tender deadline passed.

* The Norris trade was unexpected, though it wasn't surprising the Nationals acquired another catcher. And given the relatively weak free agent class - Matt Wieters, Alex Avila, Kurt Suzuki, the injured Wilson Ramos - a trade did make some sense.

The choice of Norris, however, is a bit of a head-scratcher. The 27-year-old is coming off a brutal season in San Diego in which he hit .186 with a .255 on-base percentage, 14 homers, 42 RBIs and a .583 OPS that ranked dead-last among all major-league batters with at least 400 plate appearances.

Behind the plate, Norris threw out only 20 of 96 basestealers. (For comparison's sake, Ramos threw out 19 of 51.) Norris' pitch-framing skills rated in the middle of the pack according to, and actually ranked a couple of spots better than Ramos.

That said, there are some reasons to be optimistic about improvement from Norris in D.C. He posted a ridiculously low BABIP of .238 this season despite improving his line drive rate to 29 percent. That would be a potential indicator of bad luck, something that would return to normal next season. More alarming, though, was Norris' 30 percent strikeout rate.

In the end, this was a fairly low-risk move. The Nationals got an affordable catcher (he'll probably make $4 million or so via arbitration) who is under club control for two seasons. They gave up only a marginal prospect - 19-year-old right-hander Pedro Avila - to get him. If it doesn't work out, it's not the end of the world.

* Norris' acquisition does, however, raise questions about how the Nats plan to use their catchers next season. For the moment, they have Norris, Jose Lobaton and Pedro Severino on their roster. None of them is a sure-fire, everyday catcher right now, though Severino obviously has the most upside of the group.

Severino-Throws-White-Sidebar.jpgBarring any more moves, the sense is that Norris and Lobaton would split the job, with Severino opening the season at Triple-A Syracuse to get everyday at-bats and be available for a call-up should something happen to one of the others.

But don't go writing any of that down in ink just yet. A lot can still happen between now and April. It's entirely possible one of those three could be used in some sort of trade package that has yet to be finalized.

* The decision to non-tender Revere was not surprising at all, but that doesn't mean his career has fallen apart. The 28-year-old outfielder no doubt struggled mightily in his one season in D.C., but there could have been extenuating circumstances.

Revere tore an oblique muscle on opening day, and though he returned from the disabled list about a month later, he suggested late in the season that the injury never completely healed to the point that he didn't feel it. He heard from other ballplayers who suffered similar injuries that it wasn't until the following season they felt 100 percent again.

Revere's numbers were awful this year, but his numbers the previous three seasons were awfully consistent. Don't be surprised at all if he enjoys a nice bounceback in 2017 wherever he winds up.

You can't blame the Nationals for not wanting to spend $6 million to keep Revere and take a chance on him returning to form. But another club certainly should be willing to take a chance on him at a lesser salary.

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