As the trade deadline approaches there seems to be a changing of the guard. While the American League East has been relatively quiet on the trade front, the West is starting to take on the look of an old fashioned arms race. Oakland fired the first salvo in taking two of the top starting pitching options off the table when they acquired both Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs. In response, the Angels have been stocking up on bullpen arms by adding Joe Thatcher from the Diamondbacks and Jason Grilli from the Pirates. And to be fair, Joe Smith has really stepped up his game since the Angels traded veritable gas can Ernesto Frieri to the Pirates. But seeing an aging lineup and a barren minor league system, the Angels have moved their chips all in on 2014 by acquiring Huston Street from the Padres.
In the deal the Padres acquired three of the top prospects in the Angels farm system. Not only did they get the Angels #1 ranked prospect second baseman Taylor Lindsey, but they received a very projectable bullpen arm in R.J. Alvarez along with shortstop Jose Rondon who is fresh off an appearance in the MiLB Futures Game. Given that teams fall in love with prospects, at first glance the Padres appear to have fleeced the Angels. But, just like in fantasy, if the Angels win a title this year, those flags do fly forever.
With the recent emergence of Kevin Jepsen who has been dealing of late, the Angels now have the ability to shorten games with a lead. Huston Street gives them a veteran presence at the back end of the bullpen and Joe Smith now slots to the eighth inning, a role he has thrived in before. Although the Angels say they are done dealing, a smaller move to pick up one more left-handed specialist may be in order with Thatcher being the only lefty in the pen as of this writing. Here are the breakdowns of the pieces moving in the trade:
Los Angeles Angels:
Huston Street 2014 Stats – 1 W, 24 S, 33 IP, 34/7 K/BB, 1.09 ERA, 0.76 WHIP
Due to his injuries in the past, Street was not only passed over in pre-season drafts by fantasy owners, but he is under-appreciated in baseball. Huston has not only converted 107 of his last 117 save opportunities but he has also had a surge in his strikeout rate this year. Street has increased his K/9 from 7.31 in 2013 to 9.27 in 2014 and his K/BB rate of 4.86 is a reason for his great success this year. For fantasy purposes, AL only players will be bidding very high this weekend to procure his services. Given the heavy price tag that the Angels paid to get him, it is very likely that the Angels will pick up his team option for 2015 as well giving them a season and a half of Street in the American League.
The Angels also received minor league relief pitcher Trevor Gott from the Padres. He has split time this year between A and AA with a combined ERA of 3.56 to go along with 2 wins and 16 saves. Gott is a player for AL only players to track but should not be a factor this year in fantasy.
San Diego Padres:
At first glance, it appears that the Street trade not only gives the Padres farm system a boost, but it will allow for future trades going forward. With the rumors of Chase Headley being on the trading block, acquiring Taylor Lindsey allows the Padres to move Jedd Gyorko back to his original position of third base with Lindsey probably moving up in September to cut his teeth at second base in the majors. For years the Padres have tried to stockpile high upside arms for the bullpen and getting R.J. Alvarez in the deal stays in line with this. Alvarez could be a future closer for San Diego and maybe the best player in the deal in the long term. Jose Rondon is still developing his offense and while his arm at shortstop has been questioned, he did appear in the Futures Game and is worth following as he develops on San Diego’s farm.
Taylor Lindsey AAA Stats – 75 G, 50 R, 8 HR, 30 RBI, 7 SB 247/323/400
As the Angels number one rated prospect, Lindsey didn’t match the upside that Angel’s fans had hoped for but he was still their prized possession. Despite not being the “left-handed” Howie Kendrick, Lindsey still possesses some upside. This season he has improved his BB% and lowered his K%. After suffering a concussion in June, he has returned with a vengeance hitting 292/320/500 over his last 20 games. Not only that, here are his last 10 games from MiLB.com:
• Taylor Lindsey Last 10 – 7 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 SB 351/368/541
Knowing that the PCL is a hitters league these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, but the Kendrick comparisons are not bad as Lindsey could be a double-digit home run and steals player in the future for the Padres at second base.
R.J. Alvarez AA Stats – 1 Save, 21 G, 27 IP, 38/10 K/BB, 0.33 ERA, 0.85 WHIP
Alvarez features a 95 MPH hearer and this year has scrapped his curveb for an 84 MPH slider with great success. He did miss some time this year with elbow discomfort but if he can stay healthy could be a future closer for the Padres. With a K/9 of 12.67 and K/BB of 3.8 he deserves your attention.
Jose Rondon A+ Stats – 72 G, 40 R, 0 HR, 24 RBI, 8 SB 327/362/418
Rondon is still developing his power and though his arm strength is in question, provides the Padres with a possible shortstop of the future.
The biggest winners in the short term are the Joaquin Benoit owners. Although it may be advisable to sell him now while his value is highest. San Diego has expressed concern about trading both Benoit and Street, but if the fire sale is going to happen, he may be moved as well. Even though Benoit gave up a run in the ninth against the Mets last night for the loss, he has closed effectively in the past and should have the job in the interim, especially if the Padres are showcasing him for a trade. Here is how Steamer projects Benoit’s rest of the season:
Joaquin Benoit ROS Stats – 2 W, 13 S, 26 IP, 31/8 K/BB, 2.59 ERA, 1.08 WHIP
So to sum this trade up, drop Joe Smith for Joaquin Benoit. AL owners will be opening their FAAB budgets for Huston Street, especially if they need saves. NL only owners will be targeting Taylor Lindsey for future middle infield help but do not forget R.J. Alvarez.
Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!
Statistical credits: Fangraphs.com, MiLB.com, Steamer Projections, BrooksBaseball.net
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/yIVonn