The Cincinnati Reds added another pitcher to their spring training roster on Wednesday, signing left-handed reliever Daniel Norris to a minor league deal. With his deal comes an invite to big league camp, bringing the number of players in Goodyear on the Major League side of things to 65. The Reds will also have another 49 minor league players in “Early Minor League Camp”, and it’s likely that early on in the spring schedule of games that you will see several of these players showing up.

A former starter, Daniel Norris has been in the big leagues for parts of the last nine seasons. He made his debut with Toronto as a 21-year-old back in 2014 and has pitched for the Blue Jays, Tigers, Brewers, and Cubs along the way. He’s had ups-and-downs in his career, posting ERA’s under 4.00 in parts of three seasons, but also having an ERA over 5.00 in parts of three seasons, too.

Two of those three seasons have come in the last two years. In 2021 he split the year between Detroit and Milwaukee and posted a 6.16 ERA in 57.0 innings. Last year he split his season between Chicago with the Cubs and Detroit, posting a 5.22 ERA. But after he was released by the Cubs and then picked up by Detroit his ERA went from 6.90 with the Chicago in 30.0 innings to 3.45 with the Tigers in 28.2 innings.

So what happened in Detroit that turned things around? It was two-fold, it would seem. His control got much better as he went from 21 walks in 30.0 innings to just 8 walks in 28.2 innings – with that his strikeout rate also declined in a big way. But he also gave up fewer home runs, allowing 4 of them in Detroit after giving up 7 with the Cubs.

After he arrived in Detroit he began throwing his sinker less often that he had been throwing it in Chicago, and his slider usage dropped off a little bit, too – though he was still throwing it over 20% of the time. His ground ball rate was 43% while pitching for the Cubs, but it jumped up to 51% – a well above-average rate – in his time with the Tigers in 2022. His home run per fly ball ratio was also cut in half.

If the Daniel Norris that pitched for Detroit in 2022 shows up this spring, he could find himself making the team out of spring training. A good ground ball guy who doesn’t walk batters can find plenty of success, even with a below-average strikeout rate.

You can see the career stats for Daniel Norris here.

38 Responses

  1. Bill J

    Just wondering could it be some pitchers have more success in one league than the other. Noticed Norris in the American League ERA was over 4 in the National was over 6.

    • MK

      Back in 70’s and before the NL was considered a fast ball League and AL breaking ball. There is so much cross over and player movement now I’m not sure there was a difference.

    • MuddyCleats

      Injury and Ball Parks would be my guess? Norris has been effective at times in his career. Not sure if injuries turned him in to a nibbler or not? Likewise, Tiger Stadium is a much bigger ballpark than Wrigley. It’s a lot easier to challenge hitters n Detroit than it is in Chicago.
      Kevin Gausman comes to mind. I don’t think he was totally healthy with the Reds, or he had lost the grip on his splitter ? However, look what a move to San Fran did for his career. He bounced back in a big way as did Alex Wood and to a lesser extent A. DeSciafani

  2. Tom Mitsoff

    I’m all in favor of the approach of bringing as many players with major league experience into camp as possible. Increasing the number of arms and bats the Reds bring in to audition increases the chances that at least one will make the kind of impression that can’t be overlooked.

    Of course, I wish the players being signed were ones at the top of their game, ready to help this team contend. But I will tip the cap to Nick Krall if this is his strategy, because at least he is trying to get something done with near-zero budget.

    • LDS

      Absolutely, sign every pitcher that no other team wants and maybe, someday, they get lucky. With the exception of Myers, they haven’t signed a ML starter this entire off season. As for Krall, if he had integrity, he’d resign and tell the media when asked why, the truth – the owners are bleeding the organization dry and it wasn’t something he was comfortable participating in. But, obviously, that’s not going to happen.

      • Tom Mitsoff

        I don’t think it’s a matter of integrity. He has one of 32 major league general manager jobs, and he’s clearly a baseball lifer. If he quits now, he has little to no chance of getting another GM job. But if he is able to build something that exceeds expectations, then he can start perhaps dreaming of greener (wink wink) pastures.

      • Melvin

        Tom – Are there 32 teams in MLB? 🙂 I’m confused now. Google must be messing with me. 🙂

      • Harry Stoner

        This is one of the lamest complaints yet, bro. You need to be saving things up so you don’t run out of trite negative statements even before the season begins.

        “If he had any integrity he’d resign and rat on his former owners…..”

        Come on.

        I realize ‘retirement’ is a fantasy world where idealism runs even more loose than in adolescent, but some of these complaints are eating away at your cred here.

        You contribute a lot. But some of this stuff is just too much… or maybe just too lazy.

        Complain away, but get creative and put some more effort into it…..

      • LDS

        @Harry, I’m still waiting for someone to convince me that the Reds will be better this year. So far no one has succeeded in doing that. Certainly, no one from the Reds organization has made a convincing argument. Hey, but where you going to go?

    • SteveAreno

      Daniel Norris is at the top of his game in the last five years timeframe. The last sentence says it all. If the Tigers version shows up, we win. We need a southpaw badly.

  3. Jimmy McFarland

    Should have signed Johnny to a 2 year deal and let him retire as a Red. Would have helped this staff a lot.

  4. SultanofSwaff

    If Norris is worth a flyer, then the Reds should absolutely be in on DFA Tyler Holten. Holten is stingier with the HR and shows that nice 3-1 K/BB ratio everywhere he’s been. Could be a nice depth piece whom you can shuttle because he has options.

    • 2020ball

      Not sure there is anyone I’d obviously want to DFA for him to be on the roster, would be fine with him if he was on a minor league contract.

  5. Michael B. Green

    Good signing. If he performs, he gets traded to a contender at the Deadline.

    • MuddyCleats

      Agree; I could see him being helpful to Lodolo as well.

  6. Michael B. Green

    Doesn’t he do the RV thing like Scooter Gennett?

  7. RedsGettingBetter

    Let’s see a battle to know who is gonna make the other LHRP spot to join SanMartin between Alex Young and Daniel Norris.

  8. Roger Garrett

    No issue with bringing as many as possible to camp.I check the mail box daily to see if I have been invited.So far no luck but I did get invited to referee my freshman granddaughters basketball game against the lady members of the school staff.Here in North Carolina they get 85 bucks to ref a game and all they do is swallow the whistle for 4 quarters.Should be easy cause I don’t have the air to blow it or to get up and down the court.

    • Jimbo44CN

      Now that’s funny. Funny cause it would be the same for me!

    • Tim

      You might want to check your junk email box…my invitation was in there.

  9. JayTheRed

    So almost 30 players now will not make the opening day roster with the Big-League club.

    My concern is do all these minor league deal players get an actual chance to even show what they have. Do spring training games have the 3-batter minimum?

    I am really torn on getting MLB TV this year at all. Plus, they jacked up the price too to 150 for all teams and 120 for a single team. Seems a little pricey for what I want to pay. Yes, I know they added all the minor league games to the packages, but honestly, I don’t follow the minor league teams very closely.

  10. Melvin

    LOTS of sorting is going to have to be done especially in the area of pitching. That will the boring part of ST compared to seeing the new youngins.

  11. MK

    Organization a little thin on lefties at upper levels. A positive signing even if he goes to Louisville.

    • TR

      Lefties are usually a scarce item. Norris is experienced and could be a positive in the Red’s needed bullpen.

  12. MK

    For what it’s worth they gave him a big league number. 31

  13. JB

    “Doesn’t walk batters”. He will never make it in the bullpen. You are required to walk the first batter. It’s just a Reds thing.

  14. Redsvol

    I recall watching him pitch an inning for cubs last year (which was clean) and thinking this guy can still pitch. He had velocity and he had control. Not sure how that combination isn’t more successful but hopefully he and DJ can figure it out.

    I’m very much in favor of brining in guys with ML experience into the bullpen. And I’m more in favor of brining in similar guys on minor league deals with starting experience. Chase Anderson and 2 others would be fine and they can go to Louisville if everyone is healthy and durable. As others have pointed out, we don’t have any projected starters with experience throwing 150 innings. They won’t last.

  15. CI3J

    Hmm… This could be a nice pickup. He’s about to turn 30, so it’s not like he’s washed up just yet, and if something really “clicked” for him in Detroit, the Reds are in line to benefit. It wouldn’t be the first time a pitcher re-invented himself mid-career.

    Low risk, potential high reward signing, just what the Reds need. Would like to see him in the bullpen, which is really thin on LHP.

  16. AMDG

    The last time he was a starting pitcher (2019) he compiled a 3-13 record, so he would be a great Mike MInor replacement. Although I think Weaver was signed to be the 5th starter who regularly gets shelled and exits early.

    Over the past 2 seasons out of the bullpen, Norris compiled a 5.68 ERA, so he should slot in nicely with what the Reds has last year with Strickland, Moreta, Kuhnel, Sanmartin, and Warren.

  17. Tom Diesman

    Has anyone heard any more on the Kennys Vargas signing? The Reds have never confirmed the signing that I know of.

    • Doug Gray

      I just double checked the media guide and he’s still not listed.

      My only thoughts here are that he is simply waiting for his physical to take place when he arrives for spring training, which assuming he passes, would make the deal official. But that’s just pure speculation on my part.

      • Tom Diesman

        Thanks for checking Doug, that’s probably a good guess.

  18. redfanorbust

    Does anyone know if there is a limit set by MLB as to how many players you can invite to ST? Before ST do the teams get a say in their schedule i.e. how many split squad games they can play in? Seems to me Reds need as many games/innings they can get to give a decent chance to evaluate all these players plus give the regulars a chance to get their timing down.

  19. Tim

    This has all the markings of another slow start due to the number of tryouts happening in ST. No time to gel as a starting lineup.

    • Melvin

      It’s certainly not a positive sign for a hot start.

  20. Max BRAGG

    Just ANOTHER sore Arm pitcher with LITTLE success. There is a 66 year old pitcher in Tampa looking to sign call Reds management!