Braves trade Norris to LA in 5-player deal

June 30th, 2016

ATLANTA -- Bud Norris provided unexpected stability that was much needed as injuries and regression depleted Atlanta's starting rotation in June. But instead of gambling on the possibility that Norris could sustain this success, the Braves opted to take advantage of his sudden trade value before the clock struck midnight.

The Braves traded Norris, Dian Toscano, a player to be named later and $1 million to the Dodgers in exchange for two Minor League pitchers -- left-hander Phil Pfeifer and right-hander Caleb Dirks.

Along with gaining some future financial flexibility, Atlanta managed to get something in return for Norris, who had no trade value before making five solid starts after returning to the rotation in June.

"We get two young players who aren't far away that our scouts like and who put up great numbers," Braves general manager John Coppolella said. "We feel like we could see both guys [at the big league level] soon."

This deal provides somewhat of a homecoming for Dirks, who was traded by the Braves to the Dodgers for international bonus money around this same time last year. The 23-year-old right-hander posted a 1.44 ERA and recorded 35 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings for Double-A Tulsa this year.

Pfeifer played with Braves top prospect Dansby Swanson at Vanderbilt before being selected by the Dodgers in the third round of the 2015 MLB Draft. The 23-year-old southpaw will have an opportunity to enhance the left-handed relief depth within Atlanta's system. He produced a 2.67 ERA and limited left-handed hitters to a .194 batting average while combining to complete 30 1/3 innings at the Class A and Class A Advanced levels this season.

While Dirks and Pfeifer might not profile as anything more than middle relievers at the big league level, the Braves certainly couldn't have envisioned gaining this return when Norris was removed from the rotation and sent to the bullpen with a 8.74 ERA at the end of April.

Norris made an emergency start in place of Mike Foltynewicz at Dodger Stadium on June 4 and then proceeded to produce a 2.15 ERA over five starts.

"I hate to see Bud go," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He's done a great job here. I just thanked him for everything he brought to us."

One of the primary reasons Snitker hated to bid adieu to Norris stemmed from the fact he will now have to fill a spot in his depleted rotation, which regained Foltynewicz on Thursday. If Tyrell Jenkins and Casey Kelly are available, they could both be asked to complete a few innings on Saturday, when Norris' next turn had been scheduled.

Along with taking advantage of Norris' value to the Dodgers, who are also currently working with a depleted rotation, the Braves also managed to erase their financial responsibility to Toscano, who has essentially been an afterthought since he signed a four-year, $6 million deal last year.

Toscano missed the entire 2015 season because he could not gain government clearance to begin playing. The 27-year-old outfielder batted .226 with a .582 OPS in 58 games with Double-A Mississippi this season.