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Rays, Royals could be interested in Norris

The Nationals placed veteran catcher Derek Norris on waivers Saturday and are expected to release him sometime this week. If they do so before March 15, they’ll only be on the hook for his termination pay, which comes in around $700,000 compared to the $4.2 million salary he would have received in 2017. Norris lost his starting role after the team picked up Matt Wieters on a one-year, $10.5 million contract in February. They reportedly made a good faith effort to trade him, but his price tag and abysmal offensive production for the Padres in 2016 made it a tough sell.

That’s not to say he won’t be without suitors, even this late in the year. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman speculates that the Royals could have some interest in adding depth behind the plate after Salvador Perez injured his knee in a collision during the World Baseball Classic. An MRI exam didn’t reveal any structural damage, however, and it’s unlikely that Perez will see significant time on the disabled list once the inflammation subsides.

Another interested party could be the Rays, says Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The Rays currently have three active catching options in Curt Casali, Jesus Sucre, and Luke Maile, but none of them appear to be a lock for the starting role. Instead, manager Kevin Cash is considering a platoon situation while he tries to improve his defensive options behind the plate. Norris’ bat is underwhelming, to be sure, but his superior pitch-framing skills might be just what the Rays need.

Urias likely to start year in minors

The Dodgers don’t want Julio Urias in the bullpen this year, but they may not want to use him in the Opening Day rotation, either. The 20-year-old is still shackled to an innings limit for and could be shut down at some point during the year in order to preserve his arm. It’s the same extreme precaution the Dodgers exercised in 2016, though manager Dave Roberts told the media that he foresees a more normal, unrestricted routine in the left-hander’s near future.

For now, Urias could begin the season in the minors in order to keep his arm fresh for a longer run later in the year, one that the team hopes will extend through October. Without Urias, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Dodgers will still have plenty of arms to round out the rotation, including right-hander Brandon McCarthy and left-handers Alex Wood and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

Like Urias, Ryu’s status is up in the air. He impressed with a two-strikeout, one-hit performance during his first Cactus League outing Saturday, but has battled major elbow and shoulder injuries over the past two years and looks to be anything but a sure thing for Los Angeles this season.

Lat injury compromises Rosenthal’s starting role

While the Dodgers hammer out the last of their rotation vacancies, Cardinals right-hander Trevor Rosenthal could see his rotation spot disappear after experiencing continued soreness in his right lat muscle. The former closer is attempting a shot at the rotation this spring, but unexpected health issues could restrict his ability to build up a sufficient pitch count by the time Opening Day rolls around.

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak says he’ll still need to see Rosenthal pitch in a spring training game before he can fully assess the right-hander’s readiness for the season. Rosenthal was scheduled for an appearance last weekend, but had his recovery timetable pushed back so that his arm could rest between bullpen sessions.

Assuming Rosenthal gets left out of the rotation this April, he could emerge as a potential multiple-inning relief option for the Cardinals, which could give him some flexibility with his schedule and allow him to build toward a starting role later in the season. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch points out that not having a fixed schedule could also make it more difficult for Rosenthal to make a complete recovery, which means that the Cardinals would likely need several multiple-inning relievers to shoulder some of the workload alongside the righty.