As the calendar flipped to July the countdown to the July 31st
non-waiver trade deadline began in earnest. With the addition of another wild card in each league causing more clubs to feel they are still “in it,” fewer clubs are officially in sell mode. Of course our beloved and eminently frustrating Padres are in that exclusive group of clubs that have more or less decided to cut bait on this season. That means the Padres will be at the forefront of trade discussions as the “contenders” attempt to pry away every useful and available member of the Padres that can boost the chances of those playoff hopefuls down the stretch.
Beginning today we will profile the Padres most likely to draw interest as the deadline approaches. First up is the guy I feel is a virtual lock to get moved before July 31st
Almost every team challenging for a playoff spot can use a quality reliever or two to improve their bullpen. The Padres will probably make their closer Huston Street available to the highest bidder. Street is in the final guaranteed year of his deal and it’s unlikely the Padres would pick up the option on the contract. Thus it would make sense for the club to get some value for him while they can. Why Street should be of interest to contenders
Street has converted all 12 of his save opportunities this season and boasts a 1.29 ERA through 21 innings. He owns a stellar strikeout-to-walk ratio of 28 – 6 (4.67) along with a WHIP of 0.67. Street is not just a one-year wonder either as he has converted 83.3% of the save opportunities and owns a 4 – 1 K/BB ratio in his career. The guy is a quality bullpen piece. What clubs could use a guy like Street
As I said earlier, just about every playoff contender could use another solid reliever but let’s start with the teams in contention whose bullpens rank near the bottom in baseball.
New York Mets – The Mets are 3.5 games behind the Washington Nationals in the NL East and are right there in the chase for one of those wild card spots. They currently have the highest bullpen ERA in MLB and have blown 13 of 34 save opportunities. Clearly the Mets could use some help. Last week Ken Davidoff of The New York Post mentioned the Mets would be involved in any discussions related to Street.
St. Louis Cardinals – The Cards are 2.5 games behind Cincinnati in the NL Central and have the 21st
ranked bullpen ERA at 4.56. They’ve converted just 17 of 30 save chances and their 13 failures are tied for the second highest total in baseball.
Cleveland Indians – Cleveland has successfully converted 25 of 29 save chances but has the 18th
highest bullpen ERA. The club sits just 1.5 games back of the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central and could use a boast in the bullpen.
Chicago White Sox – Speaking of the Sox they have blown 12 of their 28 save opportunities to date this season. Their bullpen ERA is ranked 20th
at 3.82. Adding to the bullpen could help them hold onto their scant lead in the AL Central.
Now there are plenty of other teams that could and should check into Street’s availability but these four stuck out to me.
The question remains what type of return could the Padres expect for Street. Last year three relievers were moved at the deadline. Mike Adams was dealt by the Friars to Texas for two solid pitching prospects; Joe Weiland and Robbie Erlin. Adams though came with another year of team control and was earning significantly less than Street is this year. This is probably not reasonable to expect that type of return.
Koji Uehara was also acquired by Texas who sent SP Tommy Hunter and Chris Davis, players with major league experience, to the Orioles. Hunter has failed as a starter in Baltimore but Davis has been pretty good with a .789 OPS and 13 HR. But again Uehara also had an option year on his deal which was exercised and that made him more valuable.
The third reliever dealt at last year’s deadline was Francisco Rodriguez, who went from the Mets to the Brewers to be Milwaukee’s setup guy behind closer John Axford. Rodriguez also had a vesting option based on games finished; a mark he wouldn’t get to while setting up Axford. The Brewers, hoping to extract some extra value from Rodriguez in the form of compensatory draft picks, offered the pitcher arbitration which he accepted. As a result the Brewers didn’t get any draft choices and were forced to pay a setup pitcher big bucks.
In return the Mets received situational lefty Danny Herrera and minor league reliever Adrian Rosario. That’s not a bad haul given the Mets got out from under the specter of the big money option on Rodriguez’a deal.
My guess is the Padres will do well to get one solid prospect, someone ranked between 8 – 15 (depending on the strength of the respective minor league system) in the acquiring club’s organization), or two lower ranked prospects. Here are a few names that could interest the Friars.
Mets - The Mets have several RHP with great stuff. Perhaps a guy like Domingo Tapia, Rafael Montero or Cory Mazzoni can be spared. The Padres might also look at former Fresno St. SS Danny Muno. The Friars would like to add an advanced middle IF prospect and perhaps Muno is just that.
Cardinals – The Cardinals could conceivably deal hard throwing RH reliever Maikel Cleto, who has some big league experience. He has a 3.94 ERA but has struck out 41 in 32 innings at AAA. Joe Kelly, Robert Stock, Jordan Swagerty or Seth Blair, all RHP, could also intrigue the Friars.
Indians – Cleveland has RHP Austin Adams, who is a converted IF. He’s already 25 so his shelf-life as a prospect is soon to expire. Zach McAllister, who also has some big league time this year and has posted solid numbers the last year plus at AAA, could also be a target.
White Sox – The Sox have one of baseball’s worst minor league systems. The Friars will have to dig deep and perhaps require multiple assets. Maybe RHP Jacob Petricka could be an option.
I wouldn’t expect a huge return if the Friars deal Street however they could acquire something of future value from a team desperate to upgrade their bullpen. I expect Street to be dealt somewhere by August 1st
and I am confident Byrnes can get something of quality.