Rays Sign Derek Norris: Fantasy Fallout in 2017

Derek Norris has found his second home so far in 2017, inking a deal with the Rays. What, if any, is the fantasy fallout of the deal?

The Nationals waited in the wings and Matt Wieters fall into their laps this offseason, giving them their best option to start behind the dish. But, the deal perplexed some, as the Nats dealt for Derek Norris in the offseason. The Nationals would then decide to release Norris instead of carrying him as the backup, opening the door for the Rays to let their starting catcher fall into their laps.

In a strange twist of fate, Norris joins Tampa and ex-Nat Wilson Ramos. Most fantasy owners will be more interested in Ramos once he returns in May or June, but Norris slides into the starting role as Ramos will presumably be the DH. It is first important to note that Norris gets plus marks in his pitch framing, so he will hold much more real life value that fantasy.

The question is: does he have any fantasy value after his performance last season?

Norris was downright terrible at the plate last season. He could not even hit his weight, ending the season with a .186/14 HR/42 RBI/.583 OPS. The HR tied his major league career high, but the rest of stats were all career lows. He never got things going, the only month he hit over .203 was in June, and fantasy owners cast him off quickly.

One of the most glaring blemishes in Norris’ game last season, was that he struck out a dismal 30% off the time. That led to his XBH output dropping, clearly hurt his BB totals and led to a career low .238 BABIP. Will Norris bat .186 again in 2017, no. But, with that abysmal K rate, owners can not expect much over a .250 AVG if that.

Petco Park is a killer on any hitter, so the move to the A.L. East will surely help him post a career high in HR. The Rays have some decent depth in the lineup, but Norris should slide towards the bottom of the order. Owners can not expect much more than 50 RBI if they invest.

Owners looking for some positives should have some confidence in his batted ball profile. He had a 22% LD, 35% GB, 43% FB, 49% Med and 34% Hard contact rates. Those are solid ratios, but it does not matter if Norris keeps swinging and missing at the rate he did in 2016.

The catcher position is always one that splits fantasy owners in terms of draft strategy. Norris is only two years removed from being a productive fantasy C, but he just lacks the upside that fantasy owners should be targeting.