A’s call up catching prospect Derek Norris for MLB debut

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Derek Norris, the catching prospect acquired from the Nationals as part of the offseason swap for Gio Gonzalez, has been called up by the A’s and is making his big-league debut behind the plate today.

Norris is one of the more interesting prospects in baseball, as he’s been very productive in the minors despite low batting averages thanks to tons of walks and power.

Last year, for instance, he hit just .210 in 104 games at Double-A … but smacked 20 homers and drew 77 walks for a strong .367 on-base percentage and .446 slugging percentage. Norris has clearly altered his approach somewhat this season, cutting back on his walks in the name of making more contact and the result is a .273 batting average with a slightly lower OPS than last year.

His power hasn’t gone anywhere with eight homers and 14 doubles in 55 games at Triple-A, so if Norris can continue to hit above .250 in the majors he has a chance to be one of the more productive catchers in the league. For now he’ll try to stick in Oakland at age 23, although with Kurt Suzuki around it’s tough to see a ton of starts behind the plate available for Norris.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.