BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Rays' catching depth is about to grow deeper.According to a report from the Tampa Bay Times, the Rays are finalizing a deal to sign free-agent catcher Derek Norris. A Major League source told MLB.com that a deal is not done but "very likely." The club has
BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Rays' catching depth is about to grow deeper.
According to a report from the Tampa Bay Times, the Rays are finalizing a deal to sign free-agent catcher Derek Norris. A Major League source told MLB.com that a deal is not done but "very likely." The club has not confirmed the deal.
Rays manager Kevin Cash had no comment after the Rays' 4-0 loss to the Pirates on Friday afternoon.
The Rays entered Friday's action with three catchers vying for two available spots: Curt Casali, Luke Maile, and Jesus Sucre.
Casali and Maile are the incumbents, and both are on the team's 40-man roster. Sucre is not on the 40-man roster, which means the Rays would have to make a roster move in order to create a place for him on the 40-man roster so they could put him on their 25-man active roster.
Depending on Norris' readiness, the above-mentioned competition could evolve into three catchers competing for one job. And that job could disappear once Wilson Ramos is ready.
In December, Tampa Bay signed Ramos, who was a free agent, to be its primary catcher. However, Ramos is projected to be out until at least the middle of the 2017 season as he recovers from a torn right ACL he suffered in September. Signing Norris would give the Rays a veteran backstop to fill in the gap until Ramos returns.
Norris, 28, batted just .186 with 14 home runs and 42 RBIs for the Padres in 2016. Norris was traded by the Padres to the Nationals in December, but Washington released him last week. The five-year veteran was an All-Star with the A's in '14, a season in which he batted .270 with 10 homers and 55 RBIs.
"I try not to think about it," said Casali, when asked about the catching situation prior to Friday afternoon's game, and prior to news of Norris' signing. "I feel like I've had a solid camp so far. Feel like all of us have had a good camp. And we put our best foot forward. Just let everything work itself out pretty much. I don't know if they have their minds made up already, or if they're still waiting or something. But I'm just going to keep working my butt off to do everything I can to make the team."
When asked if the decision would be made the final week of the Grapefruit League season, Casali told a reporter, "That's a great question.
"I'll leave the speculating to you guys and the decision-makers," he added. "I just can't worry about it. It's something that I have not worried about and I'm going to choose to not worry about this next week. I'm just going to keep fighting, keep playing hard, and try an force their decision."
Cash must decide on his catching situation by the time the Rays set their 25-man roster on April 1. The next day they meet the Yankees at Tropicana Field for an Opening Day tilt.
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.