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Huston Street Rumors
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.
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.
The Angels and Padres don’t match up on a deal for right-hander Ian Kennedy, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but the two sides are still discussing closer Huston Street (Twitter link). Rosenthal notes that the Padres are still listening to offers from other clubs with interest in Kennedy.
The Angels have been connected to Street several times, and the pitcher himself even said he would welcome a trade to the Halos when asked by Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times. That’s not to say that Street wants to be traded to Anaheim — he’s said multiple times that he loves San Diego — but rather that if he is traded, he’d prefer it to be to a contending team. Street also told Shaikin how exciting the concept of playing alongside names like Mike Trout and Albert Pujols would be, and he offered high praise for manager Mike Scioscia.
According to Shaikin, the Angels prefer Street to Jonathan Papelbon and Joakim Soria. Street, who has pitched to a 1.09 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 33 innings this season, is earning $7MM and has a $7MM club option on his contract for 2015. As such, the price tag on him is likely to be fairly substantial, though not as steep as the presumed price tag on Kennedy.
As far as Kennedy goes, it’s not entirely surprising that the two sides don’t match up. The Angels’ weak farm system has been well documented, and there’s been a great deal of speculation that they could have trouble landing significant upgrades on the trade market. In a second piece, Shaikin spoke with GM Jerry Dipoto, who said that he doesn’t want to deal any pieces from his big league roster in trades.
That, of course, implies that a young player who could be of interest to a rebuilding club, such as slugging first baseman/DH C.J. Cron, isn’t likely to find himself as part of a trade. As Shaikin writes, Dipoto knows that means he doesn’t have the pieces to acquire David Price, but the team is still in active pursuit of pitching upgrades. Based on all of these reports, it seems that Street is the primary target for the time being, though I’d expect the Angels to cast a wide net over the next few weeks.
With his club sitting 12 games back in the NL West at the All-Star break, Padres closer Huston Street certainly looks to be a prime trade candidate. The 30-year-old righty owns a 1.09 ERA through 33 games and 33 frames on the year, with a sparkling 9.3 K/9 against 1.9 BB/9. This is his third straight season of sub-3.00 ERA work. Street is playing on a $7MM salary for 2014, and can be controlled for $7MM next season via club option.
Here’s the latest news on Street and the rest of the closer market:
- Street expects to be dealt, he tells Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (Twitter link). The club has approached him to discuss that possibility, he adds.
- San Diego has had enough discussions regarding Street that a deal does indeed appear likely, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The club is, however, somewhat hesitant to part with both Street and set-up man Joaquin Benoit, Heyman adds.
- The Angels are one club looking at Street, reports Heyman. The club’s interest was reported yesterday by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Los Angeles has also considered Jonathan Papelbon of the Phillies, but his contract is an obvious turn-off. (On the other hand, of course, he would presumably require less of a prospect return to acquire.)
- Also weighing a move on Street are the Pirates, says Heyman. The Orioles and Giants have been mentioned by sources as other speculative possibilities. But Heyman says that those clubs appear more likely to prioritize rotation help.
- Though the Tigers have been mentioned as a team that could conceivably be interested in late-inning relief help, Heyman says that Detroit has not indicated interest in bringing in an option to challenge or supplant Joe Nathan.
The Angels are trying to acquire starting pitcher Ian Kennedy and closer Huston Street from the Padres, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. The two teams have discussed a possible deal for Street, but not yet for Kennedy.
Acquiring both players will be tricky for the Angels, Rosenthal suggests, because the Padres control both Kennedy and Street through 2015. They are more inclined to trade players who are eligible for free agency after the season, like Chase Headley and Chris Denorfia. Another potential obstacle is that the Padres’ ownership might hope to quickly build a competitive team — the recent signing of Seth Smith to a two-year extension suggests that the Padres do not wish to rebuild for long. They could potentially trade Headley and Denorfia, but keep Kennedy and Street for next season.
The Padres might acquire Triple-A second baseman Taylor Lindsey in a deal for Kennedy and Street, Rosenthal writes. The Angels do not have a strong farm system, so it might be tough for them to assemble the talent needed to swing a big trade, at least not without dealing big-league players of their own.
Here’s the latest from San Diego…
- Ian Kennedy is perhaps the Padres’ biggest trade chip, yet the team isn’t eager to deal the right-hander, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. Kennedy has pitched well (3.72 ERA, 3.19 K/BB, 9.3 K/9 in 181 2/3 IP) since coming to the Friars last season and the club still has him under control through the 2015 campaign. “Unless an offer blows them away, the Padres’ owners, eager to contend, may be compensating Kennedy handsomely in 2015,” Lin notes, as Kennedy has one more season of arbitration eligibility remaining and will earn a nice raise over his current $6.1MM salary. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported yesterday that the Orioles had been scouting Kennedy.
- “I’ve allowed myself to be open to whatever happens, happens. Last year I definitely did not want to be traded. Now, my plan is to play for whatever uniform they put me in,” Huston Street tells Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown. Street’s excellent season has drawn some trade attention from other clubs, and while the closer noted that he likes San Diego and believes the team can still be competitive, “I lean heavily toward the want-to-win side of the equation.”
- Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune answers questions about the trade deadline, the Padres’ GM search and several other topics as part of an online chat with fans.
We just took a quick look at the NL East; here’s the latest from the rest of the National League:
- The Brewers will once again recall top prospect Jimmy Nelson, this time to take the rotation spot of the struggling Marco Estrada, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported yesterday (via Twitter). Nelson, who entered the year with 27 days of service, received a one-game callup earlier in the year. Now, it seems he could be in the bigs to stay. At this point, he will not be able to accrue sufficient service time to qualify for Super Two status.
- With the Pirates bullpen showing some signs of wear, the club will be on the lookout for relief help in addition to starters, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. One possibility, says Biertempfel, is Huston Street of the Padres. Though he figures to require a substantial return, Street would potentially slot in as the club’s closer with Mark Melancon returning to an 8th-inning role. Pittsburgh has also recently scouted the Red Sox, who have several arms that could appeal.
- The Dodgers have now sat center fielder Andre Ethier twice in a row against righties, leading Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com to wonder whether the club will look for an alternative. Scott Van Slyke, who has been in the lineup, does not look like a long-term solution in that role, so Saxon suggests that top prospect Joc Pederson could potentially receive a nod. If that happens, says Saxon, the club may well “fell compelled” to deal one of the team’s four highly-paid outfielders over the summer.
- Here’s the latest on the Padres‘ GM search, which the club hopes to wrap up by mid-August, according to a tweet from Scott Miller of Bleacher Report. The team will ultimately sit down with about a dozen options, then call back a few for a second interview. Today, the club announced, MLB senior VP for baseball operations Kim Ng had an interview. Meanwhile, internal possibility A.J. Hinch has told the Pads that he does not wish to be considered, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
There were several notes yesterday on the Padres‘ search for a new GM. The club interviewed Rangers assistant GM A.J. Preller yesterday, reports MLB.com’s Corey Brock, joining prior candidates Larry Beinfest, Logan White of the Dodgers, Ray Montgomery of the Diamondbacks, and Billy Eppler of the Yankees. Today, the team had a sit-down with Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen, per Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com (via Twitter). Meanwile, Cardinals assistant GM Mike Girsch has withdrawn himself from consideration, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter link). As Nightengale further tweets, some potential candidates have expressed a belief that it will take upwards of two to three years to effect a turnaround in San Diego.
Here’s the latest trade deadline chatter from the Friars and the rest of the NL West:
- The Padres are asking for a big return to move late-inning righties Joaquin Benoit and Huston Street, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter). A reunion with the Tigers makes sense for Benoit, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, because the sides parted on good terms.
- The Dodgers are looking into the starting pitching market, particularly after losing Josh Beckett to the 15-day DL, reports Shaikin. Though Los Angeles hopes Beckett’s hip impingement will only cause him to miss one start (with the benefit of the All-Star break), the club is readying for a longer absence. Of course, Paul Maholm remains in the fold, and the club has fill-in options at Triple-A, but those appear to be temporary options. Shaikin says that the team lacks the kind of rotation depth that it would prefer, and could pursue either a depth arm (he gives Jake Peavy and Bartolo Colon as hypothetical examples) or a high-end pitcher such as David Price or Cole Hamels.
- Giants GM Brian Sabean says that his team is willing to consider any and all trade proposals, reports Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News. “We’ve told everybody that everybody we have is in play,” said the long-tenured GM. “There are no untouchables in our organization.” While he expressed a desire to be patient, he expressed consternation at the team’s recent struggles. “Unfortunately, we’ve leaked oil in a lot of areas,” said Sabean. “That further confuses what you think you might want to do or have to do in and around the trade deadline.” As far as where an addition could be made, Sabean indicated that many spots are in play: “All our prospects are in play, but at this point we need bullpen help, you can always use another starter, second base, bench help,” said Sabean. “Just a lot of areas where you need shoring up and obviously we’re not [going to] be able to do that totally in the trade market.”
- Last night, we took a look at some comments from Rockies owner Dick Monfort, courtesy of Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Notably, he said that he has no plans to deal star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. This morning, Saunders posted the full transcript of his interview with Monfort, and there is plenty more to cover. Monfort says that the organization’s greatest need is starting pitching depth, and said he “would love to have another starting pitcher before the trade deadline,” preferably “somebody that we could have control of for a period of time.” The club had interest in acquiring Jeff Samardzija, but “the asking price was Eddie Butler and some other stuff,” which Monfort found too steep.
- Though Colorado has one of the worst records in the league, Monfort says that the team is not a seller, at least at this point. After weathering the injuries and a tough stretch in the schedule, he said that he is holding out hope that the Rockies can creep back into the wild card picture. Monfort said that he does not anticipate trading starter Jorge De La Rosa or outfielder Michael Cuddyer, who he “would like to figure out a way to keep” beyond this season.
The Padres have signed fourth-round selection Nick Torres, reports MLB.com’s Corey Brock (on Twitter). Torres, whose slot was valued at $445K, received a $406.7K bonus and is already DHing for the team’s Arizona Rookie League affiliate tonight. Torres ranked as the No. 117 prospect in the draft per BA, and MLB.com ranked him 109th. Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com note that Torres was the heart of a strong Cal Poly team and profiles as a corner outfielder that can generate consistently hard contact and has plenty of raw power to tap into.
Here’s more on the Padres…
- The Padres wanted to interview Indians assistant GM Mike Chernoff for their vacant GM slot, but he turned down the opportunity to interview and will remain in Cleveland, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports (on Twitter). David Forst of the A’s and Jason McLeod of the Cubs took the same route, Heyman notes.
- Jeff Francoeur, currently enjoying a strong season for the Friars’ Triple-A affiliate, has a rolling opt-out in his contract and could soon leave for a Major League opportunity, reports Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish. Francoeur’s contract allows him to leave should a team offer him a big league deal, and one source suggested to Cotillo that the Blue Jays have have interest. Frenchy is slashing a healthy .297/.325/.485 with 15 big flies this season, though those numbers have come in the very hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
- ESPN’s Jim Bowden feels that the Orioles, Tigers, Angels and Reds are good fits for Huston Street and offers his thoughts on what each club would have to surrender in order to pry the potential All-Star away from San Diego (ESPN Insider subscription required). Street, who has a $7MM club option for the 2015 season, has posted a stunning 0.90 ERA with a 32-to-7 K/BB ratio in 30 innings this year.
- The Padres’ decision to extend Seth Smith was simply weird, writes Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron. While Smith can more than justify the relatively small investment, his value likely won’t ever be higher, and the Padres probably aren’t going to win during the life of this contract. San Diego hasn’t been able to decide whether it’s rebuilding or pushing for contention in years, Cameron writes, and this move further exemplifies that indecision despite the fact that it came after the team dismissed its GM.
The Padres have received a significant number of trade inquiries on late-inning relievers Huston Street and Joaquin Benoit, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Sitting ten games under .500 and having recently dismissed GM Josh Byrnes, San Diego certainly figures to be a seller.
As Heyman writes, Street and Benoit could be the team’s best trade deadline pieces. (It is worth noting that starter Ian Kennedy and third baseman Chase Headley might also bring strong returns.) The pair of righties has been outstanding: Street, 30, has let in less than one earned run per nine with 9.6 K/9 against 2.3 BB/9, while Benoit, 36, has a 1.42 ERA and an even more-sterling 10.5 K/9 versus 2.9 BB/9. And Street, in particular, has a fairly attractive contract, as he is owed $7MM this year and comes with a $7MM club option for 2015. (Neither player has no-trade protection, Heyman notes.)
All things considered, teams looking to bolster the back end of their bullpens may not find better options elsewhere. Clubs presently checking the market for late-inning relief, according to Heyman, include the Tigers, Angels, Blue Jays, Orioles, Brewers, and Marlins, with the Yankees, Twins, and Indians also potentially joining the mix.
The Padres are currently 10 games below .500 and 14.5 games behind in the NL West despite a pitching staff that ranks eighth in the Majors in ERA, and ownership is losing patience with the club, according to multiple reports. In an appearance with Darren Smith of Mighty 1090 radio in San Diego yesterday (audio link), Padres CEO Mike Dee said called the team’s current standing “unacceptable.” Dee notes that as an organization, “we’re all accountable,” but he made little effort to hide the fact that changes could be on the horizon.
“I wouldn’t be doing my job if I was not looking at everything and everybody in this organization from top to bottom … We increased payroll 25 percent. We got an enormous commitment by ownership to do that, and it’s not getting done. And when it’s not getting done, everybody and everything gets put under the microscope, and if changes are appropriate, changes will be made.”
While Dee declined to “put a shot clock” on when moves will be made (if at all), he went on to say, “Stay tuned. If it doesn’t turn around, invariably, we’re going to have to make some tough decisions.” Specifically, he was critical of the team’s offensive struggles. When asked if manager Bud Black was getting the most out of the roster, Dee replied by saying that even Black himself would answer “no” to that question, though he declined to place any significant amount of blame on the longtime San Diego skipper, stating “It’s not on Buddy, singularly, it’s on the organization. All of us are disappointed. All of us are accountable. The fanbase deserves more.”
This morning, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports exchanged emails with chairman Ron Fowler, who told him:
“At this time, we will not be discussing our situation with any parties outside of our senior management circle. That said, we are terribly disappointed in the team’s offense this year and staying the course (waiting for a turnaround) is becoming less appealing as the ugly losses continue.”
Rosenthal speculates that hitting coach Phil Plantier might be the one who is in the most immediate danger. The Padres are, after all, last in the Majors in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, having batted just .216/.275/.344 as a team. Petco Park’s pitcher-friendly setting can’t even be blamed, as the Padres rank last in the Majors with a wRC+ of just 75, and that stat is both park- and league-adjusted. (In other words, Padres hitters have been, as a whole, 25 percent less effective than a league-average hitter, even when adjusting their hitting to account for a pitcher-friendly environment.)
Rosenthal points back to an article from the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee last month, in which Acee suggested that ownership was becoming impatient with Black. Within that piece, Acee noted that while the lack of offense isn’t necessarily Black’s fault, it is his problem. He went on to write that if the team doesn’t look better by season’s end, GM Josh Byrnes would also be a candidate to be replaced.
Rosenthal writes that Black is still among the game’s most respected managers when talking to rival executives, and he could land another managerial job in short order were he to be dismissed in San Diego. Beyond that, Rosenthal writes that roster changes could be on the horizon as well, noting that the team is expected to move multiple veteran pieces prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. He lists Seth Smith, Huston Street, Ian Kennedy and Chris Denorfia as candidates to be shipped out.