The Nationals acquired catcher Derek Norris from the San Diego Padres on Friday in exchange for Minor League right-handed pitcher Pedro Avila. Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.
The trade returns the 27-year-old catcher to his original organization. Norris was a fourth-round selection of the Nationals in the 2007 MLB First-Year Player Draft and it was with Washington that he established himself as a strong receiver behind the plate. Norris, who went to Oakland in the trade that brought left-hander Gio Gonzalez to Washington on Dec. 23, 2011, is a career .233 hitter with a .309 on-base percentage and a .380 slugging percentage over parts of five Major League seasons.
Norris made his Major League debut with Oakland in 2012 and was acquired by the Padres after an All-Star season in 2014 in which he hit .270 with a .361 on-base percentage and a .403 slugging percentage.
In 2014 and 2015 with Oakland and San Diego, respectively, Norris combined to hit .259 with a .330 on-base percentage and slugged .403. In those two seasons alone, Norris tallied 52 doubles, three triples, 24 home runs, 117 RBI, and 89 walks.
In the past three seasons, Norris has averaged 133 games per year, including averaging 122 of them behind the plate. According to Baseball Prospectus, Norris ranked 10th in Major League Baseball in framing runs above average (9.2). Norris has also appeared in 21 games at first base in his Major League career.
With the acquisition of Norris, the Nationals have re-acquired two of the four players traded to Oakland in the deal that netted Gonzalez. Washington re-acquired right-handed pitcher A.J. Cole, along with right-hander Blake Treinen, on Jan. 16, 2013, as part of the three-team trade that sent Michael Morse to Seattle. Right-hander Brad Peacock (Astros) and left-hander Tommy Milone (Twins), were the other two players acquired by Oakland in the Gonzalez deal.
Avila, 19, posted a 14-10 record with a 2.93 ERA in 34 games (33 starts) across two seasons in Washington's Minor League system. He started 20 games for Single-A Hagerstown in 2016, going 7-7 with a 3.48 ERA. In 2015, his 87 strikeouts tied for the most in the Dominican Summer League.
A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Avila was signed as a non-drafted free agent on July 2, 2014.