A bullpen that went from being a glaring weakness in April and May to a strength in June and July received a huge shot in the arm Friday night when the Angels acquired All-Star closer Huston Street in six-player trade with the San Diego Padres.
The four-for-two deal came before the Angels' game Friday, in which they were tied with the Seattle Mariners, 2-2, through 11 innings.
The trade cost the Angels three top prospects from an already thin farm system, triple-A second baseman Taylor Lindsey, double-A reliever R.J. Alvarez, whose fastball sits in the 97-mph range, and Class-A shortstop Jose Rondon, who played in Monday night's Futures Game.
But in Street, the Angels add a seasoned closer who provides even more depth to a revamped bullpen that includes recently acquired veterans Jason Grilli and Joe Thatcher and superb right-handers Joe Smith and Kevin Jepsen.
Street, 30, is 1-0 with a 1.09 earned-run average in 33 games, converting 24 of 25 save opportunities and limiting opponents to a .158 average. He has 34 strikeouts, seven walks and has allowed 18 hits in 33 innings for an 0.758 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning).
His 90-mph fastball isn't overpowering but is delivered with deception from a three-quarter-arm slot, has good sinking action and is complemented by a slider and changeup.
Street will probably push Smith, the sidearm-throwing right-hander, back to a setup role, even though Smith has given up one hit in his last 11 innings and has converted 10 straight save opportunities.
But that was fine with Smith, the former Cleveland Indians reliever who is 3-0 with a 2.32 ERA and 15 saves in 44 games after signing a three-year, $15.75-million deal with the Angels last winter.
"I'd be fine with it, man," Smith said before the game. "If they think it's better for the ballclub, I'm all for it. I signed my life away, so to speak, last off-season. I came here to win. Whatever it takes, wherever I pitch, I'll pitch. If they think he can help this club, bring it on."
Street, a 10-year veteran and two-time All-Star who also pitched for the Oakland Athletics (2005-2008) and Colorado Rockies (2010-2011), is reasonably priced for a closer.
He is in the final year of a five-year, $36-million deal that includes a $7-million salary this season — the Angels will pay about $3 million of that—and a $7-million team option for 2015. Street has a 35-27 career record and 2.87 ERA in 548 games, converting 258 of 300 save opportunities and limiting opponents to a .211 average.
Street said before Tuesday night's All-Star game in Minnesota that he would be thrilled to join the Angels, citing the chance to "play with guys like Albert Pujols and Mike Trout," as well as for Manager Mike Scioscia.
Street played his first four big league seasons for the A's while the Angels were winning the American League West title three times in four years.
"I was probably too young to realize how good he was at the time," Street said of Scioscia. "That's one of the best managers, maybe, of all time. If I went there, I'd have a real chance to win."
The Angels won 19 of 23 games before the All-Star break, in large part to a bullpen that combined for a 2.68 ERA and went 10 for 12 in save opportunities in 26 games since June 16. Relievers posted a 4.36 ERA and blew 10 of 26 saves in the team's first 66 games.
Lindsey, considered the lesser of the three top prospects going to the Padres, is batting .247 with eight home runs and 30 runs batted in in 75 games.
Alvarez, who was shut down for a month because of elbow problems this season, has allowed one earned run and has struck out 38 in 27 innings at double-A Arkansas. Rondon is batting .327 with 24 RBIs at Class-A Inland Empire.
The Angels also acquired double-A pitcher Trevor Gott, a sixth-round pick in 2013, from San Diego. The fourth Angels prospect going to the Padres is Class-A pitcher Elliot Morris.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times