The consensus is that the Angels got a pretty nice bargain on Wednesday, when they signed closer Huston Street to a two-year contract extension for a guaranteed $18 million. Street gave up a chance at a better deal elsewhere to stay in Anaheim.
The view from here: Street might have gotten the best deal he could get. The Angels were fair, but the evolving market for closers could have put Street in significant jeopardy in free agency. And, of course, an injury could have dampened his value; Street has been on the disabled list in four of the five seasons preceding this one.
As an increasing number of teams lean toward the sabermetric conclusions that closers are relatively overpriced and the performance of relievers in general is notoriously volatile, the demand for a proven closer diminishes. When demand drops, price generally follows – even amid baseball’s record revenues.
At the same time, teams have spread the wealth to setup men to build a deeper bullpen.
In spring training, Street said he believed his value should fall between two free agents signed last winter: David Robertson (four years and $46 million with the Chicago White Sox) and Andrew Miller (four years and $36 million from the New York Yankees).
Robertson and Miller each hit free agency at 29. Street, had he filed for free agency this fall, would have hit the market at 32.
Of the 11 free-agent relievers to sign with another team for at least $15 million over the past three winters, three were proven closers: Robertson, Joe Nathan (two years and $20 million with the Detroit Tigers) and Rafael Soriano (two years and $28 million with the Washington Nationals).
Nathan posted a 4.81 earned-average last year and is injured this year; Soriano lost his job as the Nationals’ closer at the end of last season and remains unsigned this season.
Of the nine pitchers with at least 10 saves this season, their salaries this year range from $521,000 (Brad Boxberger of the Tampa Bay Rays) to $9 million (Miller and Craig Kimbrel of the San Diego Padres). From this view, Street cashed in quite nicely.