LA Dodgers trade for pitcher Bud Norris, put ace Clayton Kershaw on DL

July 1, 2016

The Los Angeles Dodgers have had to deal with a series of roster issues this season, ranging from a banged-up pitching rotation to a weak-hitting lineup, and now to make matters worse, their best player and veritable Rock of Gibraltar, left-handed ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw, has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with mild disc herniation.  This is Kershaw’s second-career stint on the DL and the injury will not require surgery.

In addition, the team also placed starting outfielder Joc Pederson on the DL with a sprained right AC joint.  Pederson batted .236 with 13 home runs and 33 RBI in 75 games with the Dodgers and will be making his first-career trip to the DL.

While the temporary loss of the defensively gifted Pederson will be felt, at least the Dodgers can plug promising youngster Trayce Thompson in center to fill his void.

The loss of Kershaw -- who truly may be the most irreplaceable player in the game -- is an entirely different matter.  Kershaw has gone 11-2 with a 1.79 ERA in 16 starts, leading the Majors in ERA, innings (121.0) and WHIP (0.73) and ranking among the league’s best in wins (T-3rd), strikeouts (145, 2nd) and opponents’ batting average (.185, 4th).

In anticipation of Kershaw's stint on the DL, the team executed a trade yesterday for right-handed pitcher Bud Norris, minor league outfielder Dian Toscano, a player to be named later, and cash considerations from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for minor league pitchers Philip Pfeifer (LHP) and Caleb Dirks (RHP). To make room for Norris on the 40-man roster, Los Angeles designated left-hander Ian Thomas for assignment.

Norris has been one of the National League’s best pitchers this month, going 2-1 in six games (five starts) with Atlanta and ranking among the league’s best in ERA (2.08, 10th), opponents’ batting average (.194, 7th) and WHIP (0.96, 10th). Overall, the 31-year-old has posted a 3-7 record with a 4.22 ERA in 22 games (10 starts) this season, including a 2.08 ERA (11 ER/47.2 IP) in his last 17 games (five starts) since May 2.

The Dodgers hope Norris can stabilize the back end of their rotation until Kershaw and some of their other injured starters return to the club.

In eight Major League seasons with the Astros (2009-13), Orioles (2013-15), Padres (2015) and Braves (2016), Norris has gone 59-75 with a 4.43 ERA in 218 games (176 starts) after originally being selected by Houston in the sixth round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Toscano, 27, hit .226 with 10 RBI in 58 games with the Braves’ Double-A Mississippi this year following five seasons in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, where he batted .299 with 13 home runs and 101 RBI in 261 games with Villa Clara. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound, left-handed hitter was originally signed by Atlanta as an international free agent on Jan. 28, 2015.

Dirks, 23, went 3-2 with six saves and a 1.44 ERA in 28 relief appearances with Double-A Tulsa this year, his second season in the Dodger organization. He returns to the Braves organization, which drafted him in the 15th round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft out of California Baptist University and subsequently traded him to the Dodgers on July 2, 2015.

Pfeifer, 23, posted a 3-1 combined record with a 2.67 ERA in 17 relief appearances with Single-A Great Lakes and Single-A Rancho Cucamonga this year, his second professional season. He was selected by the Dodgers in the third round of the 2015 First-Year Player Draft out of Vanderbilt University.

The Dodgers activated right-handed pitcher Bud Norris and also selected the contract of outfielder Will Venable from Triple-A Oklahoma City. To make room for Venable on the 40-man roster, Los Angeles designated right-hander Layne Somsen for assignment.

Venable was originally signed by the Dodgers on June 14 and went 1-for-10 with a double in six games with Los Angeles prior to being designated for assignment on June 24 and outrighted to Triple-A Oklahoma City. He appeared in just one game with OKC, going 1-for-1.

By Staff of and news services

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