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December 7, 2011

Transaction Analysis

Sweeping Street From The Books

by R.J. Anderson

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SAN DIEGO PADRES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Acquired P-R Huston Street from the Rockies for a player to be named later. [12/7]

The rare intra-division trade where the highest-paid player is headed to the less competitive team (albeit barely), as Colorado was on a mad dash to unload Street and his $7.5 million salary in order to gain financial flexibility to pursue other options. The Padres were a willing and opportunistic suitor after losing Heath Bell to free agency, so Street finds himself traded for the second time in his career.

The first time came three years ago, when the Athletics moved Street to the Rockies as part of the Matt Holliday trade. Street had completed 70 or more innings in three of his four seasons in Oakland but has topped 60 innings just once since. Injuries have played a part, with Street missing at least 20 days in each of the past three seasons. Most concerning among the maladies is right shoulder inflammation, which caused Street to miss three months at the start of the 2010 season.

Street should please Padres’ fans, should he stay healthy. Comparing Street to Bell over recent seasons is natural and sees Street pale in comparison across a few categories (including innings pitched and earned run average), although he does own a superior strikeout-to-walk ratio. Despite facing around 150 fewer batters since 2009, however, Street has allowed 14 more home runs. Of course, moving from Coors Field to PETCO Park will assist in curbing his totals, especially if his numbers from Oakland are any indication.

Therein is the rub. Why, given the Padres’ history of finding cost-efficient relievers, would San Diego pay $6.5 million for any non-elite reliever? They appeared willing to spend on Bell if he accepted their arbitration offer, but Street is not Bell, and the Padres seem unlikely to contend this season. What gives?

Speculation leading up to the deal had the Rockies willing to pitch in money to sweeten the return. In the end, the Rockies only sent $1 million with Street, and that could be indicative of the quality of the PTBNL.  What it boils down to is the Padres paying Street for as long as he pitches for the team in exchange for what is likely to be a non-consequential player. “As long as he pitches for the team” is the key, as it seems probable that they’ll retain Street’s services through July and then try to finagle a decent return from a contender at the trade deadline. And, should they somehow make another run like 2010, then Street should help shore up their bullpen.

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

Related Content:  Huston Street

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