Huston Street Rumors

AL West Notes: Street, A’s, Corporan, Astros

Huston Street no longer has an agent and will represent himself for any extension negotiations that take place with the Angels, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports. Street was previously a client of Hendricks Sports Management. GM Jerry Dipoto tells Gonzalez that he does have interest in a new contract with Street but told the closer at the time his option was exercised that no talks would come until Spring Training.

Elsewhere in the AL West…

  • MLB.com’s Jane Lee writes that A’s sources downplayed the team’s connection to Stephen Drew and Asdrubal Cabrera. However, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that he again heard Oakland mentioned as possibility for both clubs. Heyman wonders it the A’s would try to sign both, with Drew slated for shortstop duty and Cabrera handling second base.
  • Jason Castro‘s name has drawn some attention as a trade target since the Astros acquired Hank Conger, but while Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle feels the ‘Stros would listen on Castros, he’s told that Carlos Corporan is the catcher they’d prefer to move (Twitter link).
  • In a second piece from Drellich, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow explained that he wants to give Jon Singleton and Matt Dominguez a chance to make next year’s team, but both players will have to earn their spots, as both have minor league options remaining. Adding an insurance policy that is capable of handling both infield corners would be “advantageous,” Luhnow said. Drellich notes that at shortstop, the team will also look for an upgrade, but perhaps only a stopgap with Carlos Correa rising through the system. In general, said the Astros will target infielders on one- or two-year deals, as Correa, Colin Moran and Rio Ruiz can’t be counted on to impact the big league club in 2015. In last month’s Offseason Outlook for the Astros, I speculated that they’d be a fit for Drew for that very reason.

Quick Hits: Hahn, Street, Kim, Breslow, Mets

White Sox GM Rick Hahn expects his team to mentioned in a flood of trade rumors this offseason, though he doesn’t mind since this winter, some of them will be true.  “We aren’t going to be precluded from any single player because of running up against the limits of our payroll.  And in terms of the rumors, we’ve always operated under the standpoint that we’re going to be involved in any premium player that’s available, whether it’s via free agency or via trade,” Hahn told reporters, including CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes.  “In years past some of those free-agent fits may have been a little less realistic because of what their market was going to bear out to be versus what we were able to pay. This year I understand why we’re associated with some of the more higher-profile free agent types.”

Here’s some more news from around the game as the GM Meetings roll on…

  • The Angels haven’t “yet” had any extension talks with closer Huston Street, Halos GM Jerry Dipoto tells Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (Twitter link).  Street’s current contract is up at the end of the 2015 season.
  • An unidentified MLB team has posted the highest bid for Korean left-hander Kwang-hyun Kim, Jee-ho Yoo of the Yonhap News Agency reports.  A follow-up report from Naver Sports (Korean language link, hat tip to Sung-Min Kim for the partial translation), suggests that SK Wyverns, the southpaw’s club, is delaying the official announcement since they aren’t happy that the winning bid was so low.  As MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo speculates, this could mean that SK Wyverns will reject the bid and Kim won’t be made available.
  • Reliever Craig Breslow is “getting plenty of interest,” ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes tweets.  The lefty struggled to a 5.96 ERA over 54 1/3 IP in 2014, though Edes notes that teams are seeing last season “as an outlier” given how well Breslow has otherwise pitched in his career.
  • The Metsfeel a sense of urgency” to compete, a team official tells Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, which is partially why the Mets moved quickly to sign Cuddyer.  Martino feels the team will need to add more than just Cuddyer, though a smaller addition is much likelier than a blockbuster for the likes of Giancarlo Stanton or Troy Tulowitzki.
  • Also from Martino, he wonders if Yasmany Tomas would accept a three-year contract that would allow him to hit free agency prior to his age-27 season.
  • An anonymous GM, an anonymous agent and CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman predict the contracts for 50 of the offseason’s top free agents.  They’re only picking contract values, not the actual teams, so Heyman’s game is like an inverted version of the annual MLBTR Free Agent Prediction Contest.

Angels Exercise Street Option, Decline Burnett Option, Return Moran To Mariners

The Angels have announced a series of transactions (Twitter links). As expected, the team exercised its $7MM option over closer Huston Street while declining a $4.5MM option over reliever Sean Burnett. The Halos also returned Rule 5 lefty Brian Moran to the Mariners after he cleared waivers.

Street, 31, was an easy decision. He excelled before and after coming to Los Angeles via trade, and a big part of his value came in the ability to control him for 2015. Burnett, on the other hand, struggled with significant shoulder problems during his ill-fated time with the Angels.

The 26-year-old Moran, meanwhile, never had much of a chance to stick with the Angels. Though he was expected to compete for a LOOGY role, Moran underwent Tommy John surgery in early April.



Quick Hits: Reds, Martinez, Street, Blue Jays

The Tigers and Athletics made noise at the trade deadline when they acquired David Price and Jon Lester, respectively, but now they have little to show for it, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale writes. Instead, some of the most effective moves have been the quieter ones, like the Orioles acquiring dominant lefty reliever Andrew Miller or the Giants dealing for Jake Peavy. Nightengale also notes that the Dodgers made the best move of the trading season by not dealing Matt Kemp, who hit like crazy down the stretch and so far in the postseason. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake and Alfredo Simon can all become free agents after the 2015 season, putting the Reds in a tough spot, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. “As much as I think we’d like to be able to keep every single guy and pay them what they deserve, it’s impossible to do it here,” says manager Bryan Price. Rosecrans quotes Cueto, Latos and Leake all saying they would be happy staying in Cincinnati, but the Reds will have a tight budget, with plenty of money already committed to Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce and Homer Bailey.
  • Victor Martinez doesn’t have a monetary goal in mind when it comes to the contract he’ll sign as a free agent this offseason, but he does know how many years he’d like to receive, writes Anthony Castrovince of Sports On Earth. Martinez won’t say how many years that is, but he does say he doesn’t want to still be playing at 40. He’ll open next season at 36, which might indicate he’s looking for a four-year deal. Martinez is poised to cash in after an outstanding .335/.409/.565 season in Detroit, although Castrovince notes that Martinez’s market will be constrained somewhat because he’s a DH and because the Tigers will almost certainly extend him a qualifying offer.
  • Now with the Angels (who were just eliminated from the postseason by the Royals), Huston Street fondly remembers his time as the Padres‘ closer, writes Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune.  “When you leave someplace, you want to miss it as much as I miss San Diego, says Street. “Just because that means the time you spent there was meaningful. It was a time in my career that really set me on a very successful path.
  • Not retaining Casey Janssen will probably be the correct decision for the Blue Jays, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star writes. Teams frequently change closers, as a look at playoff teams’ rosters indicates — the only playoff closer who has been in that position with his team for three years is Kenley Jansen of the Dodgers. Instead of worrying about a closer, Griffin argues, the Jays should address second base and the outfield.

NL Notes: Hamels, Lee, Burnett, Colon, Padres

The Rockies, who have lost four in a row and 11 of their last 15, own the National League’s worst record and the third-worst mark in all of baseball. The franchise faces six key questions, according to the Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders, including whether to trade Troy Tulowitzki and to overhaul the front office to appease the disgruntled fan base. Saunders doesn’t see either happening because owner Dick Monfort is an extremely loyal and stubborn man. Saunders writes Tulowitzki could force a trade if he is willing to be portrayed as the disloyal, bad guy. Elsewhere in the NL:

Edward Creech contributed to this post.


West Notes: Padres, Headley, Angels, Street

The Padres can control Tyson Ross for another three seasons, but to justify the rising cost, they’ll need more games like the gem he delivered yesterday, writes Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego.  Through 21 starts this season, the All-Star owns a 2.70 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9. Here’s more out of the Western divisions..

  • Padres assistant GM A.J. Hinch told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (on Twitter) that “Chase Headley is free agent at the end of the year, so we are acting accordingly.”  Hinch also indicated that several teams are interested in the third baseman.
  • Angels GM Jerry Dipoto told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (via Twitter) that he started working on the Huston Street deal right after the June draft about six weeks ago.
  • Dipoto went on to add that the Angels are not likely to do any more deals this month unless there is an injury to a starter (link).  However, the Halos will remain in “feeler mode” just in case.
  • The Astros have a major perception problem, writes ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (Insider sub. req’d).  Between the Brady Aiken situation, their handling of George Springer, and the widespread belief that they tanked the 2013 season, many are questioning Houston’s game plan.

Reactions To The Huston Street Trade

Here’s a collection of reactions to and fallout from the trade of closer Huston Street from the Padres to the Angels.

  • The fact that the Angels could control Huston Street for 2015 was a key factor in trading for him, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times writes. “Were it not for the fact we had the ability to control Huston for a year and two months, it would have been far more difficult to justify giving up the type of package we gave up to get him,” says GM Jerry Dipoto.
  • Angels reliever Joe Smith doesn’t mind ceding the closer’s job to Street, DiGiovanna writes. “If they think it’s better for the ballclub, I’m all for it. I signed my life away, so to speak, last off-season. I came here to win,” he says. “If they think he can help this club, bring it on.”
  • From the Padres’ perspective, the deal increases the likelihood that Chase Headley will be traded this month, R.J. Anderson of Baseball Prospectus writes (subscription only). The inclusion of second baseman Taylor Lindsey in the deal likely bumps Jedd Gyorko to third base. Gyorko had a disastrous start to his season is no sure thing himself, of course, but the Street trade makes the Padres’ future infield at least a little clearer.
  • The Padres did quite well in the deal, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes. Heyman cites another team’s GM who sounds excited about R.J. Alvarez (“could be a future closer“) and Jose Rondon, in particular, even though he doesn’t like Lindsey as much.

Angels Acquire Huston Street From Padres

The Angels have officially agreed to acquire All-Star closer Huston Street from the Padres, as first reported by Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Twitter links). It is a four-for-two deal, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first tweeted.

In return for Street and 2013 sixth-round draft choice Trevor Gott, San Diego will receive second base prospect Taylor Lindsey, who entered the year as the Halos’ top-rated prospect in the eyes of Baseball America, as well as 23-year-old righty R.J. Alvarez, who BA ranked fourth among Angels prospects. Two other minor leaguers are also headed to San Diego: rising shortstop prospect Jose Rondon and righty Elliot Morris.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at San Diego Padres

Street has been one of the most effective late-inning relievers in baseball this year. In his age-30 season, Street owns a 1.09 ERA backed by 9.3 K/9 against just 1.9 BB/9. He also sports a 42.5% groundball rate that is his best mark since his rookie year of 2005. While Street’s earned run mark is propped up somewhat by the fact that he has a remarkable 100% strand rate, ERA estimators also like his work thus far (2.90 FIP, 2.95 xFIP, 2.46 SIERA).

Street’s contract, of course, makes up a good portion of his appeal, and also presumably opened up a broader market for his services. He is owed only the remainder of his $7MM salary this year and comes with a $7MM club option for 2015. That manageable commitment arguably made him the most attractive closer acquisition candidate on the market this year — at least, that is, unless and until the Red Sox make Koji Uehara available. It appears that the Angels decided it was worth parting with a larger prospect haul to add Street, and do so now, rather than waiting to pursue one of the more expensive relief options that might have been had, such as Jonathan Papelbon of the Phillies.

For the Angels, Street represents fourth reliever added in the last month, joining Joe Thatcher, Jason Grilli, and the since-released Rich Hill. Street will presumably bump Joe Smith out of the closer role that he has occupied since deposing Ernesto Frieri, who was of course dealt for Grilli. Of course, Smith — who inked for $15.75MM over three years before the season — has been every bit as good as Street this year (2.32 ERA with 9.7 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 58.1% groundball rate).

The other piece of the deal for Los Angeles, Gott, had been throwing at Double-A after earning a mid-season promotion. The 21-year-old has just a 4.63 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 6.9 BB/9 through 11 2/3 frames at that level, but had worked to a 3.16 mark on the back of 8.9 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9 through 31 1/3 High-A innings. Gott did not rank among San Diego’s thirty best prospects entering the year in the eyes of Baseball America.

San Diego looks to have achieved a strong return for Street. Lindsey, 22, was taken in the sandwich round of the 2010 draft and landed in the 93rd overall spot on Baseball America’s top-100 prospect list. His calling card is his unconventional but effective left-handed bat. He profiles as an average runner and fielder, according to BA. In his first season at Triple-A, Lindsey owns a .247/.323/.400 slash with eight home runs and seven stolen bases.

Though it is generally unwise to look too far ahead with prospects, it appears that Lindsey is close to earning a shot at big league playing time and makes for a nice fit with San Diego. With Chase Headley set to hit the open market this coming offseason (if he is not traded earlier), Jedd Gyorko could slide to the hot corner with Lindsey slotting in at second. (Of course, 2011 San Diego first-rounder Cory Spangenberg is also filtering up the system as a keystone option, though his prospect sheen has dimmed in recent years.)

For his part, Alvarez has dominated upon being promoted to Double-A for the 2014 campaign. Exclusively a reliever, he has allowed just one earned run in 27 innings of work, striking out 12.7 while walking just 3.3 batters per nine. That performance supports Baseball America’s scouting report from before the season, which praises Alvarez for his big fastball and power slider. Indeed, according to BA, the Friars may have picked up their closer of the future by dealing their closer of the past, as Alvarez has 9th-inning upside.

In the meantime, presumably, Joaquin Benoit will step into San Diego’s closer role. He has been outstanding, with a 1.86 ERA and 10.5 K/9 versus 2.1 BB/9, since signing a two-year, $15.5MM deal (with a $8MM club option for 2016). The veteran could still be dealt, Rosenthal tweets, but San Diego will “raise the bar” on its demands having already shipped out its incumbent closer.

As for Rondon, a 20-year-old from Venezuela who was rated the Halos’ 12th-best prospect coming into the year, Baseball America says he has a good hit tool and approach, but lacks any power to speak of. He is not much above average on the bases and is a good, but not spectacular fielder who could become a second baseman or utility player as he moves forward. Of course, the youngster has only raised his stock with a strong .327/.362/.418 slash in 324 plate appearances at the High-A level this year. With half a year in the books, Rondon had already jumped to 5th among Angels prospects on MLB.com’s ranking.

Morris, 22, was a fourth-round selection last year for Los Angeles who signed for a $387.3K bonus. He has moved up to the High-A level in his second season as a professional, and owns a 4.17 ERA through 45 1/3 innings with 7.9 K/9 and 5.6 BB/9.

Bowden tweeted that Rondon was part of the deal, while Rosenthal tweeted Gott’s inclusion.


Angels Close To Acquiring Huston Street

9:57pm: Another player is expected to be going with Lindsey to the Padres, tweets Rosenthal. One possibility, according to a tweet from Brown, is 23-year-old righty R.J. Alvarez.

9:47pm: A deal is being finalized to send Street to the Angels, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.

9:18pm: The sides are indeed close, with second base prospect Taylor Lindsey expected to be part of the return to San Diego, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). Medicals have been exchanged, Rosenthal adds, which is obviously one of the final steps to a swap.

9:15pm: A deal could happen tonight, with talks currently at a “sensitive” stage, according to Scott Miller of Bleacher Report (via Twitter).

9:05pm: The sides are “getting closer” on a deal involving Street, but still have ground to cover, tweets Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports.

5:30pm: “Nothing is imminent” between the Angels and Padres regarding Street, reports Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (via Twitter).

5:16pm: The Angels are one of several teams in on Street, and no deal has been finalized, tweets Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

5:00pm: The Angels are close to finalizing a deal to add closer Huston Street from the Padres, reports Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (via Twitter).

Los Angeles has indeed looked like a good fit for the 30-year-old righty. Certainly, he has more than justified his $7MM salary this year, with a 1.09 ERA on the back of 9.3 K/9 against just 1.9 BB/9. That also makes his $7MM club option for 2015 look quite attractive.


Tigers, Rangers Discussing Joakim Soria

11:10am: Morosi’s colleague, Ken Rosenthal, adds that the Tigers are also interested in Joaquin Benoit but are not actively pursuing Huston Street at this time (Twitter links). The Tigers, according to a rival executive with whom Rosenthal spoke, are interested in adding a reliever that doesn’t view himself as a pure closer, suggesting that a new acquisition may not supplant Nathan as the primary ninth-inning option.

9:57am: The Tigers and Rangers are having ongoing discussions about Texas closer Joakim Soria, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports 1 (on Twitter).

The back end of the bullpen was a worry that Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski hoped not to have when he signed Joe Nathan this offseason, but the former Twins/Rangers stopper hasn’t pitched like himself in 2014. Nathan has posted a 5.61 ERA in 33 2/3 innings with the Tigers, and while his strikeout rate remains strong (9.4 K/9), his walks are up and his fastball is averaging a career-worst 91.7 mph. That velocity dip could have something to do with the increase in his home run rate and decrease in swinging-strike rate as well.

Soria, on the other hand, has been excellent in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery. The former Royals closer has turned in the best strikeout and walk rates of his career (11.9 K/9, 1.2 BB/9) en route to a 2.67 ERA and 16 saves in 30 1/3 innings of relief work.

An acquisition of Soria would give the Tigers an improved ninth-inning option not only for 2014 but also 2015, as his contract contains a $7MM club option ($500K buyout). Beyond that, Soria is highly affordable in 2014, as he’s earning just a $5.5MM salary, of which $2.19MM remains.

This would be the second straight season in which the Tigers have acquired bullpen help, should a deal come to fruition. However, the asking price on Soria will undoubtedly be higher than last year’s asking price for Jose Veras. Detroit sent Danry Vasquez and David Paulino to Houston in order to complete that deal.

The Rangers have reportedly been receiving a good deal of interest in their bullpen arms, and they’ve already shown a willingness to move veteran pieces by sending Jason Frasor to the Royals this week.