If Huston Street's days in San Diego are numbered, he's making them count
Huston Street's name has been one of the most mentioned in trade talks as the deadline approaches, but that hasn't stopped him from enjoying his time in San Diego and continuing to be one of the best closers in baseball.
May 9, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres relief pitcher Huston Street (16) watches fireworks with his family following a win against the Miami Marlins at Petco Park. The Padres won 10-1.
Christopher Hanewinckel / USA TODAY Sports
By Scott Miller
MINNEAPOLIS â If these are the last days for Huston Street in a Padres uniform, he sure is making them count.
Gobbling up saves like frequent flier points. Scoring the second All-Star invitation of his career. Riding in the Red Carpet parade here Tuesday afternoon with his wife, Lacey, and his sons Ripken and Ryder.
So what if he was named to the National League team only as a replacement for Padres teammate Tyson Ross? Knowing that was a possibility, Lacey had six different sets of plane tickets reserved during the crazy final days leading up to the All-Star break when the Padres were in Los Angeles and Street didn't know whether he was headed south and home for the break or east to the Land of 10,000 Lakes (and Mary Tyler Moore).
"The way I was named to the team makes it that much more rewarding, that much more fulfilling," Street says. "It really doesn't matter, there's always going to be arguments. If there were 200 players named to the team, the 201st and 202nd players would feel like they had an argument.
"There are always deserving players who don't make it, and you respect that. When I found out [Sunday] that I had made it, my goodness, it was humbling, and I was thankful."
Street was an All-Star once before, in 2012, his first season with the Padres. Then, he posted the best save percentage among all qualifying closers, converting 23 of 24 opportunities (95.8 percent). That year at the Midsummer Classic, in Kansas City, he did not pitch.
Now, he's converted 24 of 25 opportunities and is staring hard at what very probably will be his second and final All-Star appearance in a Padres uniform.
With Josh Byrnes already fired as general manager and the team concluding a miserable first half, changes are coming. Street is just about as good as gone -- possibly, according to sources, as soon as this weekend. There will be others following him out the door as the July 31 trade nears, but nobody is as valuable a trade chip in San Diego right now as Street and set-up man Joaquin Benoit.
Street expects to be dealt.
"I think there will be some moves," he says.
If it happens, it happens. And if it doesn't, I'm going to enjoy staying in San Diego because the grass is pretty green in San Diego.
Several teams are calling the Padres' Office of the GM, with A.J. Hinch as the point man and Omar Minaya and Fred Uhlman Jr. flanking him. Among the most aggressive suitors are the Los Angeles Angels, according to multiple sources.
The Angels currently have their finger on the pause button, hoping the Padres will lower their asking price for Street as July 31 nears. But with AL West rival Oakland already snapping up starters Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs, the Angels are feeling the heat.
"I don't know what's going to happen on the trade market," Street says. "The Padres have been pretty open and honest that they're definitely going to field offers, as responsible teams do.
"The Padres' organization has been extremely ... the word is 'helpful.' They don't owe me all the answers because I'm a player. I don't need to know anything. They've given me enough to work with, which allows my family to logistically plan. You appreciate that, employee to employer.
"I've told them a number of times, thank you. If it happens, it happens. And if it doesn't, I'm going to enjoy staying in San Diego because the grass is pretty green in San Diego."
Street has been a model teammate and a mostly All-Star closer (you can look it up) during his three seasons in San Diego. Byrnes acquired him from the Rockies at the winter meetings in 2011 for left-hander Nick Schmidt.
While manager Bud Black has had to solve plenty of other issues since then, the ninth innings have not been one of them.
Jul 4, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres relief pitcher Huston Street (right) and catcher Yasmani Grandal (8) celebrate after the Padres beat the San Francisco Giants 2-0 at Petco Park.
Jake Roth / USA TODAY Sports
Now, as Street kibitzed with the Cardinals' Matt Carpenter in the NL clubhouse before Tuesday night's game, and reunited with one of his best friends in baseball, the Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki, the question was, for how many more days will the words "San Diego" stretch across Street's chest?
Though he's loved his time in Petco Park, playing meaningful games in August and September surely wouldn't be such a bad thing.
"Everybody wants to win," Street says. "Everybody wants to win, and when you're on a losing team, the losing team wants to win. Every one of my teammates on the Padres wants to win."
It's just that, well, for the time being, that's not possible here. It's no secret. There is all kinds of heavy-lifting that needs to be done.
And Street is one of those pieces.
He's earning $7 million this year, with a club option for $7 million in 2015. It is, as they say in the industry, a "clean contract." Meaning, there is not a no-trade provision. If the acquiring club wants him for '15 as well, it is a very reasonable - and affordable - salary. And if the acquiring club prefers him as a rental player for 2014, well, there is not even a buyout clause in his deal. There can be a clean break after '14.
"The Angels are popping up over and over again," Street says. "I've seen some reports there. I don't have a no-trade or a limited- trade, so it's more about waiting and seeing.
"If it was the Angels, it's a short drive from San Diego. Logistically, that wouldn't be bad. My wife would appreciate that."