The Angels’ decision to let Bud Norris make his first start of the year on Friday, rather than come from the bullpen to work toward his 60th relief appearance of the season, might have helped block them from having to pay up for the $500,000 bonus Norris is contractually owed if he reaches that milestone. Don’t worry, though—it was definitely a coincidence, they promise.
Pedro Moura has an excellent write-up of the situation at the Los Angeles Times tonight. With Friday’s scheduled starter, Andrew Heaney, a late scratch with an injury, the Angels decided to pick a replacement from the pen. But rather than picking a bullpen guy who’s made a few starts this year—like, say, Jesse Chavez or Yusimero Petit, both of whom were available on Friday and both of whom ended up pitching—they went with Norris, who has worked as a starter in the past but not at all this season.
That meant, of course, that he didn’t make his 57th relief appearance on Friday and very well might not get a chance to make it to 60 at all—while it would have been a given had he stayed a reliever through the month of September, it’s not clear that he’ll be doing that anymore. And, as Moura details, this isn’t the team’s only instance of curious pitching moves that have conveniently resulted in players being unable to reach their bonus milestones: Chavez was in a somewhat similar situation, with the potential to make $250,000 with just one more start and another $250,000 with three more.
“It’s just a coincidence,” general manager Billy Eppler said.
Update (1:00 a.m. ET): Down one run to Cleveland in the ninth tonight, Norris just came out in relief. There’s number 57.
Correction (2:10 a.m. ET): This post originally said that Norris’s bonus was $750,000. His is $500,000 and Chavez’s is (at minimum) $250,000 for a combined $750,000 that the Angels could have avoided paying.