Red Sox Trade: Reliever James Norwood Offers Intriguing Upside

Norwood's fastball charts in the 91st percentile among active pitchers

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June 18

The Boston Red Sox made a trade Saturday, sending cash considerations to the Philadelphia Phillies for right-handed reliever James Norwood.

Norwood is a former seventh round pick by the Chicago Cubs in 2014, making his major league debut with the organization in 2018. The St. Louis University product pitched in parts of three seasons for Chicago, where he totaled just 22 innings of work in 23 appearances, amassing a 4.50 earned run average.

Chicago would designate Norwood for assignment prior to the 2021 season, where he would clear waivers and sign with the San Diego Padres, spending the majority of his season with Triple-A El Paso. Following the MLB lockout earlier this year, Norwood would find a new home once again, as the Phillies would acquire his rights from the Padres for infielder Kervin Pichardo and cash considerations, before designating him for assignment and shipping him up to Boston.

Despite the constant changes of scenery and and 8.31 ERA in 2022, Norwood offers some intriguing upside for Boston; particularly the front end of their bullpen.

The 28-year old has some juice in his arm, averaging a 96.6 mph fastball, hitting 98 earlier this month to nail down a game for Philadelphia. He is a three-pitch pitcher, who throws a fastball, slider and splitter. According to writer Ahaan Rungta, Norwood’s fastball velocity charts in the 91st percentile, while his chase rate ranks in the 86th percentile among all MLB pitchers.

As a ground-ball pitcher, it could benefit Norwood to throw with a much improved Red Sox infield behind him. His 3.73 fielding independent pitching number now charts as the third best mark in the Red Sox bullpen, behind Tanner Houck (3.18) and Hirokazu Sawamura (3.60), who both have ERA’s below four.

Boston’s recent history of poaching Philadelphia castoffs has turned out fairly well, (see: Pivetta, Nick), so it’s easy to see why the Red Sox took a chance on Norwood.

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