If you have not already heard the news Friars fans, Closer Huston Street signed a contract extension over the weekend. And honestly, nobody on this roster deserved an extension more than Street did, because the guy has been nothing short of “lights-out” this year for San Diego.
Through 29.1 Innings this season, Street has logged a 0.91 ERA, given up 11 Hits, made 17 Saves, and most impressively, recorded 39 Strikeouts to only 8 Walks. It would be an understatement to say that Street has been the team’s most consistent and impressive force out of the bullpen this season, but there has been really no other way to describe the Closer’s under-the-radar yet stellar performance. Thus, in my, and many other Padres fans eyes’, Street’s extension was an overall solid move by Josh Byrnes and Co. which can help the team on numerous levels over the coming seasons.
Granted, the most obvious way that Street’s extension helps the Padres is the fact that he will be kept around through at least the 2014 season (and possibly 2015 with a team option) and can continue to produce. But another huge positive to Street’s being signed over the aforementioned time period has to do with the Padres rebuilding process.
How Street Can Help the Transitioning Padres
While the Padres might not be the dinner conversation of many baseball fans this season, they are a team which has started to play some consistent baseball as of late, and pieces have finally started to fall into place (especially younger players like Alonso, Amarista, Grandal, Forsythe, etc.) for some positive momentum and more competitive baseball to be played in 2013 and beyond. With more talent arriving at the big league level, and one of the most highly regarded Minor League system’s supplying it, San Diego is primed to improve by leaps and bounds over the next few seasons (health permitting of course). So how does Street’s presence in the bullpen factor in exactly?
Well, the presence of a veteran like Huston (still 28) over these next few seasons will be crucial in terms of potential Saves and the chances for more overall victories by the Padres. With games likely to be closer because of the increased talent on the roster, and the Padres likely to hold more late-inning leads, Street will be counted on to “nail down” a few more important “W’s” in 2013, and probably more in 2014. The more chances Street gets to close games, the better, and if he performs anything close to like he has this season, the Friars will be racking up wins at a much higher rate.
The length of the contract also works in the Padres and Street’s favor as well. During the two to three seasons Street’s contract extends through, Street can solidify the Closer position while young players like Cory Burns, Andrew Cashner, and Brad Boxberger all develop, gain experience, and wait to challenge for Street’s spot in the future. As for Street, if he performs as well as he has in 2012 over the next two to three seasons, he might earn himself another huge contract with the Padres if he keeps the youngsters at bay, or somewhere else if he ends up playing himself out of San Diego’s price-range (under the assumption that the team payroll does not increase).
In addition to Street’s increased chances to seal victories and “bridge the gap” at the Closer spot, Huston, as well as veterans like Luke Gregerson Dale Thayer, and Joe Thatcher, can set some good examples for the youngsters as they work their way into the bullpen and find their roles with the team. Burns, Cashner, and Boxberger, as well as the other guys in the Bullpen now, can not only learn on the fly by “doing” over the coming seasons, but they can see how professionals like the three I mentioned above go about their business, see how hard they work, and learn and grow under their watch. As the
Finally, from a financial perspective, Street’s new deal does not cripple the rebuilding Padres’ payroll, and in my opinion a fiscally responsible contract overall. While I am sure the Padres’ payroll will increase with the new ownership group stepping in (their extension of Quentin illustrated this in my opinion), keeping a Closer around for $14 million over two seasons is a bargain when one considers how other Closers around the league like Heath Bell are earning upwards of $9 million per season. Yet the best part of the extension is that the team option worth $7 million for the 2015 season. If Street continues to produce, it will be a no-brainer decision for the team to exercise it, but if the team elects to go in a different direction, they can decline it and only have spent $7 million per season on the team payroll during 2013 and 2014. In essence, with the probability of an increased team payroll, $7 million is not an overly large number, and the extra money which is likely to be added can be used on players already on the roster, or to upgrade other positions in the future if Street does not pan out or elects to leave.
While the Quentin and Street extensions do not erase close to four decades of poor Front Office moves, it certainly appears that Josh Byrnes and Co. have this team headed in the right direction. This team might only be a 4th place team at best this season, and might hover around .500 in 2013, but it has at least been comforting to see the Padres’ brass making efforts to keep talented players which they believe can turn this team around on their roster for extended periods of time. Sure, time will only tell how these extensions I mentioned in this post truly turn out and how great their impacts’ will be. Yet I for one “tip my cap” to those which structured the Street extension, and I truly believe that the move to extend Huston will help in the rebuilding process.
Your Turn Padres Fans: What do you think of the Street deal? Good, Bad, Okay? Share your thoughts below.