ANAHEIM, Calif. — Huston Street was the solitary target, the pitcher the Angels believed they needed most to give them a boost in the second half of the season.
Friday night, while they were going 16 innings to beat the Seattle Mariners 3-2, they finally got him.
It was a costly trade, with the Angels sending four of their top prospects to the San Diego Padres for Street, but if it works, the price will have been worth it.
The bullpen has been the Angels’ primary source of concern, and even though it has been reliable in recent weeks, general manager Jerry Dipoto continued to pursue an established closer who could finish games and allow Joe Smith – the team’s de facto closer since the trade of Ernesto Frieri to Pittsburgh - to return to a setup role.
To acquire Street from the San Diego Padres, the Angels had to surrender four young players with good upsides - a risk for an organization that is shallow in its minor-league system. Going to San Diego: second baseman Taylor Lindsey, right-hander R.J. Alvarez, shortstop Jose Rondon and pitcher Elliot Morris.
"Clearly, four guys we liked, and liked them a heck of a lot," Dipoto said. "It’s always painful giving up young players that we believe are going to play in the big leagues and hopefully have long careers, and guys that have been around the organization for a couple of years. Not a simple thing."
It never is, but the Angels are hot on the heels of the Oakland A’s, and they’re in a win-now mode. They haven’t made the playoffs in four years. Impatience is growing.
The A’s recently added two starters, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, and the Angels needed to respond. With a bullpen that now includes Street, Joe Smith, Kevin Jepsen, Joe Thatcher and Jason Grilli, their depth is strong.
Smith has pitched incredibly well as the Angels closer, going 10 for 10 since Frieri’s departure, but his strength is setting up games in the eighth. Now he can go back to that role.
Street, 30, had 24 saves and a 1.09 ERA with the Padres, giving him 258 career saves in nine big-league seasons. He is owned the remainder of his $7 million salary this season, and the Angels have an option on 2015, a fact Dipoto admitted made the trade more attractive.
But even more important is that he can help the Angels now, with 10 weeks left in the regular season.
"Huston’s going to be a great addition to fit in the back end of our ‘pen," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We have a lot of guys that are pitching well down there right now, and we have one more guy that is really throwing the ball well. We’re excited to have him."
They’ll be able to measure their excitement in September, and perhaps even in October.