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Trade Analysis: Milwaukee Brewers take a chance with Daniel Norris

Daniel Norris isn’t the big name you would want to see the Brewers acquire at the deadline, but could be valuable down the stretch.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Detroit Tigers Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

When the Brewers were looking for bullpen help near the trade deadline, there were plenty of big names that could end up linked to the team. Getting a top reliever could help further push this team into a playoff run. However, the team decided to go with upside more than immediate impact at this year’s deadline. That’s where Daniel Norris falls in. The Brewers got him in the closing moments to the trade deadline, acquiring him for RHP Reese Olson.

At first glance, this doesn’t appear to be the move that a team pushing for the playoffs would make. In his time with Detroit, Norris had a 5.89 ERA this season. However, as Jack Stern pointed out a few days ago, there’s plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the acquisition. Early results have been good as well, with Norris allowing just one baserunner in his first two appearances with the team, along with three strikeouts to just one walk. Norris had settled down quite a bit in July as well, allowing no runs in eight of his ten appearances in the month of July with the Tigers.

With the bullpen currently down four pitchers, Norris will get a chance in some higher leverage roles to start with the Brewers. Once the bullpen is back to full strength, he’ll likely be more in middle relief while he works on his pitches. If he can pitch well, he could factor in to higher leverage roles in the future, and that is what the Brewers are hoping for here.

The other side of this trade is the acquisition cost for it. RHP Reese Olson is a highly regarded prospect. On FanGraphs’ top prospects list for the Brewers, he came in at #6 in the Brewers organization. Olson has four strong pitchers and is currently working as a starter, but could end up as a reliever. This season so far, he’s posted a 4.30 ERA and 4.19 FIP for High-A Wisconsin, with a 10.3 K/9 and a 4.57 BB/9. One note for Olson is that he will be Rule 5 draft eligible this year, according to FanGraphs. It’s unlikely a team would take a chance on him as a Rule 5 pick when he hasn’t pitched above High-A, but he still would be at risk.

Overall, this is a bit of an unusual pickup for the Brewers. Norris does feature high upside, and while the trade cost them a good prospect, the overall cost wasn’t high. However, the Brewers are hoping that they are able to get some strong value out of Norris in the two months before he hits free agency. Maybe Norris re-signs if he pitches well, or he might take those results to another team. Regardless of what happens, it’s still a good low risk move for the team. Norris could struggle and the team isn’t much worse off overall, or he could be excellent and the team gets even better.

Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.