In Huston Street, Padres Acquire Future Trade Chip

On Tuesday’s edition of our award-winning, critically acclaimed podcast, managing editor Dave Cameron suggested that Aaron Harang should donate a portion of his new $12 million contract (courtesy of the Dodgers) to the San Diego Padres. It was, after all, San Diego’s cavernous Petco Park that aided Harang in recording a career-best 3.64 ERA, even while posting an xFIP- (109) considerably worse than his career average (95 xFIP-).

While it’s unlikely that Harang will be making any sort of financial contribution to his former team’s coffers, it’s very possible that the new Padres front office has plans to leverage the effects of its pitcher-friendly ballpark to its benefit with the news today that they’ve acquired closer Huston Street from Colorado for a player to be named later.

The wisdom of such a move appears questionable when taken at face value. While the Padres have some interesting talent here and there, the team is unlikely to be particularly competitive in the upcoming season. Brian Cartwright’s OLIVER projection system, for example, has the Padres as a 71-win team at the moment — or, about 23 games out of first place in the NL West. Sabermetric orthodoxy suggests that the priotity for such a team is basically every other position but closer. And, in fact, it’s unlikely that the acquisition of Street will bring the Padres much closer to the the NL West title.

However, two things. First, there’s the fact that Colorado is reportedly picking up all but $1 million of Street’s $8 million salary for 2012, making him basically free. In terms of value, Street has only to produce something like 0.2 wins above replacement to earn his salary. meaning that, in terms of value, Street needs to produce something like 1.6 WAR. Street’s average WAR per 60 innings is 1.4, which we can call “close enough,” — especially given the crazy overpays we’ve seen for relievers this offseason. Furthermore, whichever PTBNL goes the other way, given the fact that he is a PTBNL, he’s more likely to profile as organizational solider than impact player.

Second, there’s the very real possibility that Huston Street won’t be a Padre past July. The right-hander is entering the final year of a three-year, $22.5 million deal he signed with the Rockies in January of 2010. Given that the Padres are unlikely to be in a playoff race at the trade deadline, Street is likely to become available to contending teams in search of bullpen help.

When general manager Josh Byrnes & Co. go start talking with those contending teams in July, they’ll likely have a more valuable commodity in Street than they do now. The popular narrative suggests that Street had his worst year as a professional in 2011. He posted the highest ERA (3.86) of his career, largely because he allowed the most home runs (1.54 HR/9).

Yet, Street’s defense-independent numbers reveal that he was basically the same guy he’s always been. The strikeout rate was a little lower (23.0%, compared to 25.2% career), but so was the walk rate (3.8%, versus 6.4%). A slightly lower ground-ball rate (34.9%, compared to 38.0% career) combined with an inflated home run-per-fly ball rate (14.5%) conspired to hurt Street’s end-of-season line. But, all told, Street posted an 81 xFIP-. His career average? 80.

Now, Street is the subject of a great experiment, moving from one of baseball most hitter-friendly parks, to one of its most pitcher-friendly. Per Baseball-Reference, Coors Field allowed about 17% more runs than other other parks in 2011; Petco, about 7% less. Apply the Petco effect to Street’s lifetime SIERA of 2.92 — a crude method, yes, but not the absolute worst — and you get something in the vicinity of a 2.72 ERA. That would represent Street’s best ERA since his rookie season of 2005, when he posted a 1.72 mark.

What could the Padres get for that kind of high-leverage reliever? One needn’t look far or wide for precedent: this same Padre team traded reliever Mike Adams to the Rangers at the deadline in 2011, netting pitchers Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland, the former of whom our Marc Hulet rated fourth in the Ranger system before the 2011 season. Wherever Erlin is ranked this year in the Padre system, given his 2011 performance it’ll likely be above whatever player San Diego sends Colorado-ways.

And there lies the point: San Diego has acquired in Street less a player to close out games for four months, and more the opportunity to acquire, at the trade deadline, one of a contending team’s top-10 prospects. Provided Street stays healthy for those same four months, that’s very likely what the Padres will be doing.




Print This Post



Carson Cistulli occasionally publishes spirited ejaculations at The New Enthusiast.


37 Responses to “In Huston Street, Padres Acquire Future Trade Chip”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. Carlcrawfordisawesome says:

    Carson, just to let you know, I replied to you in your offseason notes post

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Oscar says:

      If they traded for Street primarily for the ability to flip him at the trade deadline then why did they not trade Bell at the deadline this past season? I know there is a new GM, but I just don’t think flipping Street was the main reason for the acquisition.

      Also, was this really the best deal Colorado could get for Street??? I would have expected more.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • johnnycomelately9 says:

      the 2 picks are going to equate to top 15 prospect talent at worst?
      Ross and Hedges from the last draft are ranked in the pads top 10 by BA; and they have one of, if not the deepest system in baseball. Those picks are worth a lot.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Diesel says:

    The Rockies are picking up $1 million of his salary, not all but $1 million. Changes the calculus quite a bit.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Tony says:

    I think the Rockies are throwing in $1M the Padres are picking up the rest. Basically a salary dump by Rockies. Though you are likely right that the possibility of moving Street for prospects at the deadline probably is part of the Padres motivation to acquire Street.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. kidzero says:

    this is what troy renck twitters…I trust his facts than this farce filled article…

    TroyRenckTroy Renck, Rockies

    Should have read, Rockies will pay $500K of Street’s $7.5 Million this season.

    38 minutes ago

    TroyRenckTroy Renck, Rockies

    Rockies will pay 500K of Street’s $7 Million this yr. And could pay another $500K in 2013 if Pads don’t pick up option.Pads pay $7 M this yr

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Soam says:

    It’s common sense.

    Why in the world would the rockies trade street for a PTBNL AND pick up 7 of his remaining 8m? He’s a useful desirable player.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Soam says:

      Based on the way the article was written it seems as if Carson honestly believed the Rockies traded Street and picked up all of his contract for a PTBNL. Which should set alarms off in your head right away as anyone who follows baseball closely.
      Sorry if i’m being rude, but #cmonson

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • As someone who follows baseball closely, I make it a point never to be surprised by the strange behavior of the sport’s front offices.

        The problem here was less my baseball knowledge, and more the fact that I never learned how to read.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Soam says:

        I’m sorry to insult your baseball knowledge Carson, I was overreacting a bit. I see what you are trying to say and I hope you see what I was trying to get across. Wish I could have come across as less of a grouch

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • No problem. Least you didn’t say anything ’bout my mom. That would’ve been a problem

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Slartibartfast says:

        “As someone who follows baseball closely, I make it a point never to be surprised by the strange behavior of the sport’s front offices.”

        How very, very true…

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • steex says:

        “The problem here was less my baseball knowledge, and more the fact that I never learned how to read.”

        Am I supposed to say, “It’s okay, I don’t mind, I don’t mind”? Well, I mind! I mind big time!

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Kampfer says:

        “Based on the way the article was written it seems as if Carson honestly believed the Rockies traded Street and picked up all of his contract for a PTBNL. Which should set alarms off in your head right away as anyone who follows baseball closely.”

        Search “Vernon Wells trade”.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Slartibartfast says:

      Minor detail…

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Soam says:

        It’s not a minor detail, the money involved is the ENTIRE reason Street was traded in the first place. So let’s not trivialize it.
        If you write about baseball for a living, Street being given away for free shouldn’t pass your sniff test.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Slartibartfast says:

      #FanGraphsNeedsAnEditor

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Avery says:

        Fangraphs has an editor, but he’s been recovering from chemotherapy for the past few months, and is currently busy providing up to date coverage from the winter meetings. This is free content, and generally quite good content. When mistakes do fall through, they get fixed once they’re pointed out. Deal with it.

        +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. James says:

    It should be noted that Adams was less expensive and had more years of control (i.e., he was not becoming a free agent at the end of 2011). I’m doubtful that Street would net what Adams did, but you never know who might be a desperate bidder when the time comes.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Will H. says:

      Good point…

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Raw_Toast says:

      Yeah, but this piece says a top 10 prospect – Erlin was arguably a top 5 prospect, and Wieland was pretty highly rated, so even at below Adams level of leverage, the Padres are still likely putting themselves in a pretty decent position if they don’t manage to recapture the 2010 magic.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • DD says:

      Also, isn’t a player traded during the season now prohibited from being offered arbitration, meaning they won’t net comp picks in the draft? That also decreases the value of Street at the deadline.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • david says:

        Only players who spend the entire year in one organization will net comp picks beginning this year.
        Offering arbitration is no longer the qualifier to receive comp picks though… offering a one year contract of at least the average of the top 125 salaries in the league (currently about 12.3M) is.
        The compensation rounds in future years will be MUCH shorter.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. Marver says:

    So the Padres are essentially paying ~4-5 million (while risking paying $7 million should Street get hurt) in order to perhaps acquire future talent in late July? Couldn’t they have just overpaid Brett Austin from 2011 or Karsten Whitson from 2010, spent the remainder elsewhere, and not risked paying $7 million for nothing?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Sup says:

      Well it’s not nothing in this case. The Padres did get a useful and decent closer. Not exactly the worst thing to have, even if closers are overpaid.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Marver says:

        I guess we define baseball value differently. When the World Series odds go from 0% to 0% with his signing, I am going to consider that ‘nothing’. Sure, there may be marginal ticket sales, but that is just that — marginal.

        Just seems like a strange strategy when there are moves with much less risk involved to acquire young talent, like actually signing the guys you draft, or drafting the best talent available despite cost.

        I think this move is more about meeting Moorad’s promise of a “payroll that starts with a 5″ than anything else. They were roughly $10 MM short after arbitrations before this signing. It allows them to meet the (extremely underwhelming) promise while getting perhaps getting something long-term at the deadline. If he gets hurt, they can say they still met their promise and then ‘got unlucky’, which seems to be the MO around here.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Awesome says:

        Wilson Ramos, Carlos Santana, Jeff Bagwell, Cameron Maybin do I need to keep listing talented players acquired for relievers?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • JDUB says:

      I agree with this point completely. As a Padres fan, it’s unfortunately been the hallmark of their operation for many years. They plead “small market” and “build through the draft” but then waste precious resources on middling big league talent while not signing their top picks or simply avoiding sound talent out of signability concerns.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Amish_Willy says:

        If the trends matter, that seems more like an issue of the past then the present. They did spend 11m in this years draft, something only a handful of teams have done prior, not to mention 3 of their 4 largest bonuses given out have come since Moorad came into the picture.

        When Keyvius Sampson was signed it was pointed out that he was the first high school pitcher taken in the first 10 rounds since 2002.

        Thankfully, those risk adverse days are a thing of the past, in terms of amateur talent.

        We saw what happened with Harang going from a hitter’s haven to Petco, expect more of the same with Street, except Street isn’t anywhere near as far down the path to mediocrity as Harang was.

        Good fit for the 2012 club, IMO.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • johnnycomelately9 says:

      Whitson’s dad changed the deal on them at the last second and Hoyer refused to budge. As a padre fan I really wish they signed him but I think Spangerberg is going to help them sooner than later.

      Austin is a good talent but I always wanted them to sign Hedges if only 1 between the two. I’ve convinced myself that he’s the best defensive catcher in the minors with more pop than what everyone projected. Don’t ruin my personal scouting report for me Hedges… dominate!

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. YazInLeft8 says:

    Haters gonna hate. I love this article, I think the Padres could just constantly trade for pitchers who aren’t good, give them beautiful stats thanks to Petco Park, and trade them for more than they gave up.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Antonio Bananas says:

      Yea. Basically they could end up trading a PTBNL for a B to B+ level prospect and a few high risk high reward guys. Not a bad long term plan.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. David says:

    One of the less-discussed elements of the new CBA is that teams that receive revenue sharing funds need to spend at least 125% of that amount on big league payroll. As a team that probably has a “natural” payroll capacity of around $70M once the lay away purchase is complete, the Padres find themselves in a weird spot this offseason. They need to spend about $20M to round out this year’s roster and get to about $53M in salary for 2012 while:
    1) Not being able to compete for the top tier of free agents;
    2) Not wanting to make anything more than short-term commitments to the B-level free agents they could afford and blocking paths for the large wave of very good (but no great ones) prospects they have coming;
    3) Desperately needing to give at bats to Rizzo and Blanks this year to see what they have in those guys, who have nothing left to prove in AAA;
    4) Having several young pieces (Maybin, Hundley Headley) who are as good as/better than anything on the FA market for even significant multiples of their salary;
    5) Having dead weight up the middle in Hudson and Bartlett who probably can’t be moved; and
    6) Only having a couple of guys (Latos and Maybin) who they should lock up right now and thereby drive up their 2012 team salary.

    There just aren’t all that many guys who make $7-10M annually on a one-year basis who they can acquire without giving up significant minor league pieces.

    Street is one, and he fills a need on the roster.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>