Tigers send reliever Daniel Norris to Brewers for prospect

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit —  Daniel Norris knew there was a good chance he was not going to be a Detroit Tiger by 4 p.m. Friday. But knowing didn't make it any easier to take.

"Just knowing how much I'm going to miss this place," Norris said, still emotional nearly two hours after he learned he'd been traded to National League Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers for right-handed pitching prospect Reese Olson.

Daniel Norris moves to Milwaukee.

"The last couple of years it's come up and you're always waiting to hear something," he said. "This year I heard something. A lot of mixed emotions. I'm vey excited for the opportunity. They are an amazing team and I'm honored they want me to be a part of it. 

"But at the same time, it's hard."

Norris, who was acquired from the Blue Jays with Matthew Boyd six years ago to the day Friday, teared up during his meeting with general manager Al Avila and manager AJ Hinch earlier in the day. 

"When they told me I got traded, the first thing I said was, the toughest part is seeing where this team is now, seeing it rise and how much fun it's been to win. That's one of the reasons I'm really sad about leaving."

Norris talked about the buzz he senses for the Tigers when he's out in public and the belief in the clubhouse that a major corner has been turned.

"It's really been cool to see this year," he said. "I'll miss that, but I'm happy for the team and how far it's come."

Although the Tigers only made the one deal, Avila said there was a lot of activity and a lot of talks about several players. The two who generated the most talk were Jonathan Schoop and Michael Fulmer. 

"It got busy there for a while," Avila said. "But it went down the way I expected it to go down. We were happy to make a good deal with Norris. He's in a good position, going to Milwaukee and we get a good prospect.

"We tried hard to make a couple of other moves, but as you can see how things developed over the last day and half, it kind of became a perfect storm."

Teams, perhaps more than ever, were motivated to move high-end, elite players. The Cubs alone traded away Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javy Baez and Craig Kimbrel. It pushed players like Schoop, Fulmer and Jose Cisnero out of the market.

Also, the Tigers weren't just selling off players. They were looking to get better.

"I'd say it was an exciting time but also a difficult time when you're not a team that's acquiring," Hinch said. "You have to always remember that we want to add. That's the goal. Al has referenced it, we want to build now. 

"We're not just your farm system where you can come in grab players. I hope when we are talking a year from now, we're talking about adding talent."

Avila said, too, it might have been a different conversation had pitchers Boyd, Spencer Turnbull and even Fulmer not been injured.

"The guys that were moved were more veteran, star players who were (in the last year of their contracts)," Avila said. "We're in a different spot. We had a couple of guys who would've been of interest —  but as always, the injuries that we've suffered played into us not being able to do a whole lot."

In Olson, the Tigers are getting a 21-year-old right-handed starter who was presently pitching at High-A. FanGraphs reports say he has an above average slider and change-up which he throws off a low-to-mid 90s fastball.

"We had good reports on him," Avila said. "Our guys in the Midwest League faced him; he's got a good arsenal —  fastball, curve, slider, change-up —  so we hope he stays as a starting pitcher."

A 13th-round pick in 2018, he spent the pandemic year in 2020 reshaping his body, getting stronger, added velocity on his fastball and more bite on his secondary pitches. He was 5-4 with a 4.30 ERA, with 79 strikeouts and 35 walks in 69 innings.

Avila said Olson would start at High-A West Michigan, but expected him to move to Double-A Erie soon.

"It was a tough conversation with D-No," Hinch said. "He's been a Tiger a long time and one of my favorite guys to be around every day. He's got a great opportunity to pitch in Milwaukee and we acquire an exciting young pitcher.

"But it's always tough to see your guys go, especially guys you've been in the trenches with."

Norris' tenure with the Tigers was interrupted and set back time and again with injuries. A groin injury and subsequent surgery cost him more of 2017 and 2018. His best stretch was in 2016, when he helped keep the club in the playoff race to the last day, posting a 4-2 record with a 3.38 in 13 starts.

"I remember '16 like it was yesterday," he said. "The feeling like every pitch matters, even more than it does at the beginning of the year. I'm definitely looking forward to that part of it."

Norris bounced back, having success as a short-innings starter or longer-stint, piggyback reliever the last two seasons. In his last 10 games with the Tigers, he limited hitters to a .107/.194/.301 slash-line, with nine strikeouts in 8.1 innings.

"Just what this city embodies — hard work," Norris said when asked about his legacy in Detroit. "I hope if I left anything here it's the hard work. I did have my ups and downs here. I wasn't the pitcher I wanted to be here.

"But if anything, I hope I left that hard work ethic for everyone in that clubhouse."


Twitter: @cmccosky

On deck: Orioles

►First pitch: 6:10 p.m., Comerica Park

►TV/Radio: BSD, 97.1

Scouting report

►LHP John Means (4-3, 2.94), Orioles: It’s been a rough road since throwing a no-hitter against the Mariners on May 5. He missed most of June with a shoulder strain. This will be his third start back and in the previous two, he was tagged for nine runs in 11.2 innings.

►RHP Matt Manning (2-3, 6.00), Tigers: Well, he pulled a two-seam fastball out of his hat and debuted it in his last start. He brought his slider back a few starts earlier. What’s next — a knuckler? Manning ascended the Tigers ranks with an upper-90s heater and a floppy curveball. The resourcefulness he’s shown with a 93-mph fastball has been remarkable.

— Chris McCosky