Baseball's trade deadline isn't until August 1, but that didn't stop Thursday from featuring two pitching-heavy deals. First the Braves and Dodgers agreed to a multi-player swap that sent Bud Norris to Los Angeles, then the Marlins flipped the Padres an A-baller in exchange for closer Fernando Rodney.
Here are five things you need to know about those deals.
1. The Dodgers get some much-needed rotation help. Norris is not going to continue pitching as well as he has since rejoining the Braves' rotation earlier in the month. Still, he doesn't have to in order to represent an upgrade over what the Dodgers had in-house. At his best, Norris uses his fastball-slider combo to hector right-handed hitters. Unfortunately, his lacking changeup and command make him easy prey for lefties -- and lefties just so happen to make up most of the league's hitting population. The Dodgers are presumably hoping Norris a passable back-end starter who can help pick up more of the slack left behind by Clayton Kershaw than the Brock Stewarts of the world. That's fine, given the cost.
2. The Marlins add another lockdown reliever. Don Mattingly already had a collection of relievers authoring impressive seasons at his beck and call, including closer A.J. Ramos and setup men David Phelps and Kyle Barraclough. Rodney's addition, however, gives Mattingly yet another power arm with swing-and-miss stuff -- and one that has a ton of late-inning experience. Factor in how Rodney has a cheap club option for the 2017 season, and the Marlins stand to benefit from this trade now and later.
3. The Braves continue to focus on pitching. The theme throughout the Braves' rebuild has been their obsession with adding young pitchers. True to form, that theme continued in the Norris trade, as Atlanta netted a pair of relief prospects. Of the two, Caleb Dirks seems to be the safer bet to contribute some day in the majors. He combines a funky delivery and headstrong approach with a good fastball and slider. Don't be surprised if he ends up pitching in a sixth- or seventh-inning role on down the road.
4. The Padres turn a savvy signing into an upside play. You probably hadn't heard of Chris Paddack prior to Thursday's trade, but one glimpse at his statistics will ensure that you keep the name in mind. Paddack hasn't allowed a hit in his last three starts, and has the youth (20), size (6-foot-4), and stuff (a solid fastball and good changeup) to profile as a mid-rotation starter. The Padres effectively turned three very good months of a near-40-year-old reliever into a promising young arm. Smart.
5. Trade season is here. Much like school dances and slow claps, the trade deadline only takes one or two parties to get things rolling. In other words, now that the league's sellers can rest comfortable in knowing they won't be the first to admit defeat, you can expect activity to pick up. With a month-plus to go until the deadline itself, things could begin to get busy soon.