The San Diego Padres have had a hard time in their search for a new GM, but perhaps they might want to just stick with their current GM-by-committee arrangement as the trio of Omar Minaya, A.J. Hinch and Fred Uhlman Jr. just made themselves a heck of a deal by capitalizing on an Angels team that was desperate to add some high-end bullpen help.
Late Friday night, the Padres sent closer Huston Street and Double-A reliever Trevor Gott to Anaheim for SS Jose Rondon, 2B Taylor Lindsey, RP R.J. Alvarez and SP Eliot Morris. The Angels farm system is notoriously lousy, but that’s still a pretty great haul for a year and a half of a closer.
While none of the four prospects will are likely to appear on any Top 100 lists, Rondon is in the middle of a breakout season in Single-A. He’s the real prize of this package as he has a ceiling to one day become an All-Star at a premium defensive position. At a minimum, he should at least be a regular at shortstop for the Padres for several years. Right next to him could be Taylor Lindsey, the Angels’ top-ranked prospect entering the season. While he has had a down season at Triple-A, he has a good shot at being a solid regular in the majors and is arguably ready for a call up to the show immediately. Alvarez is another big league ready arm, one that could very quickly find himself in the mix to replace Street as closer. Morris is more of a long-term bet as he was just selected in the fourth round of the 2013 draft. A new starting middle infield, a potential closer and a starting prospect with a live arm? Yeah, that’s an outstanding return for an All-Star closer with a somewhat lengthy injury history.
So why were the Angels so eager to overpay? Trite though it may be, it is because FLAGS FLY FOREVER.
The Angels have been in “win now” mode for the last several years, but are currently in the middle of a four-year playoff drought. As of right now, they look like a lock to end that drought, but they have bigger goals in mind: winning the World Series. The biggest obstacle to that goal on an otherwise strong roster is the Halo bullpen which is currently 10th in the AL in ERA and 11th in FIP. They’ve also already had to send out their Opening Day closer, Ernesto Frieri, after he flamed out horribly. Joe Smith had been filling in quite well ever since. However, adding Street gives them that “proven closer” and, more importantly, gives them the depth they haven’t had for years.
It is also worth noting that for Angels GM Jerry Dipoto might actually be in a “win now or else” situation. The Angels have yet to pick up his contract option for 2015, so there might have been a little extra incentive for Dipoto to overpay in this deal just so he can be sure that if the Angels fall short of their goal, it won’t be because he didn’t do everything he could to cover up their flaws. Considering that he has been trying, and mostly failing, to overhaul the leaky bullpen for two and a half years, he might have seen getting burned in the post-season by a sub-standard relief corps as a potentially fireable offense.
Now he just has to hope that nothing goes wrong for the Angels between now and October because the Angels minor league system is pretty much devoid of the kind of talent that can be used in any other major trades.