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.

The Royals are paying everyone. Why can’t all of the other teams?

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Over the past several weeks we’ve heard a lot of news about teams furloughing front office and scouting staff, leveling pay cuts for those who remain and, most recently, ceasing stipends to minor league players and releasing them en masse. The message being sent, intentionally or otherwise, is that baseball teams are feeling the pinch.

The Kansas City Royals, however, are a different story.

Jon Heyman reported this afternoon that the Royals are paying their minor leaguers through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended, and unlike so many other teams, they are not releasing players either. Jeff Passan, meanwhile, reports that the Royals will not lay any team employees off or furlough anyone. “Nearly 150 employees will not take pay cuts,” he says, though “higher-level employees will take tiered cuts.” Passan adds that the organization intends to restore the lost pay due to those higher-level employees in the future when revenue ramps back up, making them whole.

While baseball finances are murky at best and opaque in most instances, most people agree that the Royals are one of the lower-revenue franchises in the game. They are also near the bottom as far as franchise value goes. Finally, they have the newest ownership group in all of baseball, which means that the group almost certainly has a lot of debt and very little if any equity in the franchise. Any way you slice it, cashflow is likely tighter in Kansas City than almost anywhere else.

Yet the Royals are paying minor leaguers and front office employees while a great number of other teams are not. What’s their excuse?