- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Nationals’ logjam at catcher loosened Wednesday morning when they gave Derek Norris his unconditional release. The team announced the move on Twitter.

Norris was acquired from San Diego in a Dec. 2 trade for minor-league pitcher Pedro Avila. His future with the team became suddenly clouded when it signed Matt Wieters to a one-year, $10.5 million contract Feb. 24.

Norris was touted as a “bounceback candidate” by Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo following the trade. Norris was in line for such a label because of his scuffling season in San Diego in 2016. He hit .186 with a .583 OPS.

Before releasing Norris, the Nationals tried to find a trade partner for him. Though, each team in the league knew the Nationals’ situation — they were overstocked at catcher and Wieters would start — dissolving any leverage Washington had a in a trade deal.

Washington needed a starting catcher after All-Star Wilson Ramos, who was set to become a free agent and had turned down an in-season extension offer from the team, tore the ACL in his right knee Sept. 26, 2016. Ramos became a free agent who dealt with a depressed market because of the injury.

The Nationals retained backup catcher Jose Lobaton and traded for Norris before signing Wieters — notably a Scott Boras client — after spring training began. Wieters, who turns 31 next week, is a career .256 hitter who hit 17 home runs in 124 games last season for the Baltimore Orioles.

• Todd Dybas can be reached at tdybas@washingtontimes.com.

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