Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Angels Acquire Huston Street

In the last five days, the Padres have shipped out two of their biggest trade chips in Chase Headley (to be talked about in the next post) and Huston Street to American League teams trying to win. Street and minor league relief prospect Trevor Gott were sent to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in exchange for four minor league players. Headley was sent with cash to the New York Yankees for infielder Yangervis Solarte and pitching prospect Rafael De Paula. The deals were completed by the the interim general managers: AJ Hinch, Fred Uhlman Jr, and Omar Minaya.

The Huston Street trade brought four top prospects to the Padres, depleting what was already the league's worst farm system. Street has a 1.06 ERA and has completed 24 of 25 save opportunities for the Padres this year, arguably putting up the best season of any reliever in the major leagues. He was first acquired by the recently-fired Josh Byrnes from the Rockies in exchange for failed prospect Nick Schmidt. In two and a half seasons for San Diego, Street performed as an elite reliever. He strung together 80 saves in his San Diego tenure, posting a 2.03 ERA but struggling with injury. He saw three stints on the disabled list in his first two seasons as a Padre. Trevor Gott, also sent to Los Angeles, was the Padres' sixth round selection in the 2013 draft. In his minor league career, he has seen time exclusively as a reliever, putting together a 3.04 ERA in 71 games. He was recently promoted to double-A, where he had struggled to the point of a 6.7 BB/9 rate in his first 11 appearances.

The biggest part of the return was minor league infielder Taylor Lindsey. Originally drafted in the first round by the Angels in 2010, Lindsey has consistently hit across the minor leagues, flashing a career .781 OPS. This season, the 22-year old has hit .247 with 8 home runs while almost exclusively playing second base for the Angels' AAA affiliate. In AA last season, he hit .274 with 17 home runs, showing power potential. With Chase Headley out of the picture, Lindsey could be the future second baseman with Jedd Gyorko sliding to third. Lindsey could hit .270 with 15-20 home runs in the major leagues some day.

Another major component of the trade is top relief prospect R.J. Alvarez. The 23-year old flamethrower sits at 95 miles an hour with his fastball, and has a plus slider. Alvarez has struck out 39 batters in 28 innings (12.5 k/9), and has allowed just one earned run (0.32 ERA) this season in AA. The former third round pick projects to be a late inning reliever, who could possibly close. There is a chance that Alvarez alone could provide more value in the grand scheme of things than Street would have in the next season and a half.

The next prospect that was netted in the trade is a high upside pick-up. Jose Rondon could end up being the best player involved in the trade. The 20-year old shortstop was initially signed out of Venezuela by the Angels. Rondon has so far slashed .327/.362/.418 and stole eight bases in a pitcher-friendly California League (A) this season, and hit .300 over the course of his minor league career. Rondon appears to be an excellent contact hitter with little power (though some could develop), plus speed, and above average defensive skills. With Trea Turner, Franchy Cordero, Diego Goris, Jose Rondon, Josh Van Meter, and Everth Cabrera, San Diego has a potentially above average shortstop at every organizational level.

The final prospect that San Diego acquired for Street was Elliot Morris. The 2013 4th round pick was one of the last players to be discussed in the trade, and probably has the least upside. In his minor league career, Morris has appeared in 29 games (19 starts) and flaunted a 3.34 ERA in 118.2 innings over parts of two minor league seasons. Morris projects to be a mid-to-back-end of the rotation starter.

Ultimately, both the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Angels won this trade. Street allows the Angels to possibly win the division and make the playoffs without having to possibly play against Felix Hernandez in a one game showdown. The Padres get four pieces that will provide significantly more value in the long run than 1.5 seasons of Huston Street. The Padres received a much better return for Street than they did Chase Headley.