Taylor Lindsey

Padres get terrific return from Angels for Huston Street

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The Angels wanted a true closer awfully badly, giving up three of their top 10 prospects to bring in Huston Street from the Padres on Friday.

It was a six-player deal in all, with the Padres getting second baseman Taylor Lindsey, shortstop Jose Rondon, reliever R.J. Alvarez and right-hander Elliot Morris from the Angels for Street and right-hander Trevor Gott.

ESPN’s Jim Bowden was the first to report the deal, with the Los Angeles Times’ Mike DiGiovanna and FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal filling in the particulars.

Lindsey opened the year as the Angels’ No. 1 prospect, according to Baseball America. In fact, he was the team’s only prospect to make BA’s preseason Top 100 list. Lindsey, though, has had a tough season as a 22-year-old in Triple-A, hitting a modest .247/.323/.400 in a very good environment for offense at Salt Lake. He’s still a nice all-around offensive prospect with his history of hitting for solid averages and decent pop. He also doesn’t strike out too much (just 44 times in 334 plate appearances this year). He’s no better than average defensively at second, but he should be good enough to stay there. Ideally, he’ll push Jedd Gyorko to third next year with Chase Headley expected to depart as a free agent (if not well before then).

While Lindsey’s stock has dropped, Rondon’s has been on the rise this year, what with him hitting .327/.362/.418 as a 20-year-old in the California League. He doesn’t figure to develop any home run power as he ages, but his line-drive stroke will produce doubles and he’s a legitimate shortstop. He’s gives the Padres another potential long-term alternative to Everth Cabrera, though he’s at least two years off.

Alvarez has definite closer potential. The 2012 third-round pick has allowed just one earned run in 27 innings for Double-A Arkansas this year, striking out 38 in the process. He has a 155/48 K/BB ratio lifetime in 103 minor league innings. Command is an issue, he throws in the mid-90s and has a very good slider. He could reach the majors in the second half and challenge for the closer’s role come next summer.

Morris, a 2013 fourth-round pick, was 5-4 with a 3.27 ERA and an 84/41 K/BB ratio in 85 1/3 innings between low-A Burlington and high-A Inland Empire this season. He’s not as highly regarded as the other three prospects.

Still, that’s quite a return for Street, who is making $7 million this year and whose deal contains a $7 million option for 2015. He’ll step right in as the Angels’ closer, pushing Joe Smith back to the eighth inning and strengthening in the bullpen as a whole. Of some concern to the Angels should be the fact that Street hasn’t pitched 60 innings in a season since 2009. He’d been used carefully by the Padres this year — they haven’t had all that many leads to protect — throwing 33 innings in the first half. The Angels will have more work for him, but they might want to tread carefully.

It should be noted that the Angels didn’t just get Street in the trade: Gott, a 2013 sixth-round pick, has a good chance of reaching the majors as a middle reliever or maybe a setup man. He has a 3.56 ERA and a 42/18 K/BB in 43 innings between high-A and Double-A this year.

In all, this one looks like a real winner for the Padres, especially in light of the fact that infield prospects were their biggest area of need. They matched up well with the Angels there, since the Angels feel they’re set with Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick going forward. It’s just that minor league depth is hardly a strength of the Angels system; they’re not going to have much to offer if injuries strike and they need additional reinforcements this year.

Gerrit Cole set to begin throwing program

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 24:  Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates sits in the dugout in the second inning during the game against the Houston Astros at PNC Park on August 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
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During the Pirates’ FanFest on Saturday, right-hander Gerrit Cole announced that he is back up to full health after being shut down with elbow inflammation in September. Per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Cole said he’ll start a throwing program on Monday as he works on regaining his form for the 2017 season.

The 26-year-old pitched through 116 innings for the Pirates in 2016, delivering a 3.88 ERA and 2.5 WARP before landing on the disabled list in June with a triceps strain and again in August with elbow inflammation. It was a steep drop for the right-hander, who saw a considerable spike in his ERA and BB/9 rate and struggled to strike out batters at the 8.7 mark he managed in 2015.

The upside? Inflammation was the worst of Cole’s issues in 2016, and while the newfound health issues didn’t help his case for an extension, a more serious injury doesn’t appear to be on the horizon.

The White Sox wanted Astros’ top prospects for Jose Quintana

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 27:  Jose Quintana #62 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning at U.S. Cellular Field on August 27, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
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The Astros, Braves and Nationals came sniffing around White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana during the Winter Meetings, but each appeared to find the Sox’ asking price well beyond what they were willing to give up for the starter. On Saturday, Peter Gammons revealed that the White Sox had floated Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker and Joe Musgrove as a possible return for Quintana.

It’s a strategy that worked well for Chicago in the past, most recently when they dealt Chris Sale to the Red Sox for Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, among others, and flipped Adam Eaton to the Nationals for a trio of pitching prospects. Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow didn’t appear eager to sacrifice some of his core talent to net a high-end starter, however, and told the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan as much on Wednesday:

We’re prepared to trade players to improve our club right now. […] We’re just not prepared to trade away players that are core to our production in 2017, and those are sometimes the players that are required to get these deals done.

While Lunhow was speaking specifically to the inclusion of third baseman Alex Bregman in future deals, it’s not unrealistic to think that top prospects Francis Martes and Kyle Tucker would also be considered instrumental to the Astros’ plans for the next few seasons.

Martes, 21, currently sits atop the team’s top prospect list on MLB.com. The right-hander blazed through his first full season in Double-A Corpus Christi, posting a 3.30 ERA and career-best 9.4 K/9 over 125 1/3 innings in 2016. Tucker, meanwhile, profiles as the Astros’ second-best prospect and made a successful jump to High-A Lancaster last season, slashing .339/.435/.661 in 69 PA. Rookie right-hander Joe Musgrove is the only player left off the top prospect list, but he got off to a decent start with the club in 2016 as well, going 4-4 with a 4.06 ERA and 3.44 K/BB rate in 62 innings during his first major league season.