My short answer is yes, Houston Street should be on the Mariners radar. The San Diego Padres closer has been consistent and reliable all season.
He has converted all 18 of his save opportunities this season, good enough for the best active save streak in the Major Leagues. And though his fastball rarely gets over 90 MPH, he has struck out 570 batters in 567 career innings.
But why would the Mariners want to invest in another closer? Because they want to win a playoff game this season.
After the first month or so of the season, Fernando Rodney has been light’s out. Joe Beimel has been a reliable lefty. Dominic Leone has been a pleasant surprise and Danny Farquhar remains the Lord of Far Far. Charlie Furbush has been better of late, and Yoervis Medina has been consistent too. Overall, the bullpen has been solid for the Mariners.
But the ‘Pen is one of the most fickle things in baseball. Most relief outings last only an inning or two, and if you’re not on you give up 3 runs and cost your team a game. And when it comes to August and September, if the M’s are fighting for a spot in the Wild-Card, there will be plenty of tense, close contests.
Sure, Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma can consistently go 7 or 8 innings. But they can’t pitch complete game shut-outs 2 out of every 5 days. That means this young, unseasoned ‘Pen guys will have the Mariners first playoff berth since 2001 on their shoulders. That is a lot of pressure on unproven relief.
So bring in Houston Street. He’s getting paid $7 million this season, with a $7 million team option for next season. He would become the Mariners 8th inning guy, so whenever a starter goes 7 innings Lloyd McClendon would be rolling out two proven closers back-to-back to secure precious victories.
The big question: are the Padres willing to part with Street? The quick answer is yes, if the price is right. The Mariners don’t exactly have the deepest of farm systems, but they do have a number of guys potentially intriguing for a San Diego team that has struggled mightily the last few seasons with poor offense and great pitching.
I am going to go bold here. Sure, the Padres are branded by the MLB as the Mariners ‘rivals’, but neither team has ever felt that way. This season though, a trade with the Padres is going to spring-board the Mariners into the playoffs.
I say the Mariners trade for three Padres: Houston Street, starting pitcher Ian Kennedy, and outfielder Seth Smith. A trade that big would come with a pretty price tag, but the Mariners would get all the pieces they didn’t over the offseason. Seth Smith is getting less than $4 million this season. Ian Kennedy is second-year arbitration eligible in 2016.
It would be an expensive trade but not necessarily as expense as we’d expect. It may take Nick Franklin, a starting pitcher, and a proven reliever with time still on his contract. It would also require some Triple-A players with promise.
Do I think this deal will get done? No. Do I think the M’s could trade for Street, Kennedy, and Smith? Of course I do.
We are at that time in the season where teams make the decision between buyers or sellers. And if the Mariners want to legitimize the Robinson Cano signing and garner some national attention, they need to keep winning, and buy up the pieces that will get them to the playoffs.