The Bud Norris saga is finally over. Houston has dealt the 28-year old Norris to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for minor league outfielder LJ Hoes, a second player (rumored to be pitcher Josh Hader), and a competitive balance pick.
Norris has a 3.93 ERA this year for Houston, and was one of the more popular names on the trade market this July. His strikeout rate has taken a substantial drop this year, but Norris is a solid enough innings eater for Baltimore. He joins Scott Feldman and Francisco Rodriguez as July acquisitions for the Orioles, and will join a rotation featuring Feldman, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, and Chris Tillman, and it looks like Jason Hammel could be the odd man out in Baltimore.
The 23-year old Hoes has only received slight playing time in the majors, but is hitting .304/.406/.403 for AAA Norfolk this year. He was ranked as Baltimore's sixth-best prospect coming into the year by Baseball America, and many think his ceiling is that of a fourth outfielder. if Hader is in the deal, it could become a coup for the Astros. The 19-year old Hader has 79 strikeouts in 85 innings for low-A Delmarva, and was the 19th best prospect in Baltimore's organization coming into the year. He's drawn comparisons to Chris Sale of the White Sox, largely because of his delivery.
The Astros also completed a deal to send outfielder Justin Maxwell to the Royals, which conveniently opens up a spot for Hoes in the majors if Houston so wishes. Maxwell has struggled this season after a breakout 2012, and had also been dealing with a fractured left hand earlier this season. In return, Houston received 20-year old pitcher Kyle Smith from Kansas City. For high-A Wilmington this year, Smith has a 2.85 ERA in 104 1/3 innings, striking out 96 and walking 29. Baseball America ranked him as the Royals' 12th best prospect coming into the season, but he did nothing to decrease his value.