Andrew Bailey Vs. Huston Street, Did the Padres Make the Right Choice?


It was not all that long ago the Padres were linked to Andrew Bailey (then of the Oakland Athletics).  The rumors eventually died down, and the Padres ultimately traded for Huston Street.  We discussed the trade in detail when it happened, but it seemed fitting to revisit the move now that the Red Sox have acquired Andrew Bailey.

In the Huston Street trade, the Padres gave up a player to be named later (who eventually became Nick Schmidt) and assumed the remaining year on Street’s contract.  The Rockies even kicked in enough cash to pay Street’s buy out after the 2012 season.  So what did the Red Sox give up to get Bailey?  They gave up Josh Reddick and two prospects, infield prospect Miles Head and pitching prospect Raul Alcantara.  The A’s also sent Ryan Sweeney to the Red Sox in the deal.  In hindsight, the Padres, if given the choice between Street and Bailey and knowing exactly what they would have to give up to get each respective player, made the right move.

Reddick, a 24-year old outfielder with just 404 plate appearances in the Big Leagues, was a promising player.  In parts of three seasons with the Red Sox, he hit .248/.290/.416 with 10 home runs.  He posted a 1.6 WAR in 2011.  Reddick was showing promise and is pre-arbitration eligible until the 2014 season.

Miles Head is a power hitting first basemen who has been steadily working his way through the Red Sox minor league system.  While he would have likely been blocked at first by Adrian Gonzalez, Head has experience at third base and may have been converted if necessary.  In his minor league career, Head hit .274/.351/.446 with 23 home runs in 204 games.  Kevin Golstein of Baseball Prospectus said of Miles Head:

"He combines bat speed with excellent hands and a good contact rate for a player with plus power, but there are questions about his profile, as he’s short, squat and right-handed—a combination that has produced few impact first basemen in the big leagues. He could put up some big numbers in the California League next year, but Double-A will be the true test for him."

Raul Alcantara is just 19 years old, and in just two seasons in the Red Sox organization found himself in High-A ball.  In 2011, Alcantara went 1-4 in 13 games started.  He did, however, post a 2.20 ERA and walked just 1.7 per nine innings.  He has a ways to go before being Major League ready, but with his age he has very high upside.  Here’s what Goldstein had to say of Alcantara:

"At 6-foot-3 and a skinny 180 pounds, he has projection and already throws in the low-90s, touches 95, and displays highly advanced control, walking just six in 48 GCL innings while limiting the league to a .147 batting average."

We know now what the Red Sox gave up, but what did they get in return?  Andrew Bailey was a relatively late bloomer, breaking into the Major Leagues with Oakland at 25 years old.  However, he has done nothing but impress during his time with the A’s.  Bailey has averaged 25 saves in his first three seasons, put up an ERA of just 2.07, and struck out nine batters per nine innings.  Obviously Bailey would benefit from additional save opportunities with a competitive team, but he won’t come cheap.  While money is of little concern to the Red Sox, Bailey will command a hefty raise in arbitration.  MLB Trade Rumors predicts Bailey’s 2012 salary to be $3.5 million.  That number will increase rapidly if he continues to perform well.

The Red Sox also get Ryan Sweeney.  Sweeney was actually one of the A’s most promising players.  In six seasons split between the White Sox and the A’s, Sweeney hit .283/.342/.378.  He accumulated 6.2 WAR, and he provided slightly above-average defense in the outfield.  All of this while costing the A’s just $1.4 million in 2011.  With the Sox, Sweeny will likely find himself in a utility role, but has the chance to work himself into the regular lineup if he can continue to put up impressive numbers in Boston.

Now, back to the Padres.  Had the Padres gone after Bailey, they would have either been making a strange choice and only signing Bailey to a one-year deal after arbitration, or they would have had to sign him to a contract extension.  Either way, the Padres would have had to give up two top-level prospects and a Major League ready (or Major League experienced) player.  That’s a lot for a small-market team to give up for a closer.

Instead, the Padres gave up a lower-tier minor league player, got a proven closer for the year, got the Rockies to kick in some cash, and bought themselves time to develop some of their prospects in hopes that one may be able to step in as closer on Opening Day 2013.  The Red Sox trade for Bailey proves the Padres made the right choice in passing him up.  It also helps solidify the Huston Street deal as a solid move for the 2012 season.