Angels, Street agree on extension …
The allure of free agency never really tugged at Huston Street, even though he was less than six months away from hitting the open market as one of the game’s steadiest, most successful closers over the last decade.
“The point of free agency,” Street said, “is to end up where you want to be.”
And Street never wanted to be anywhere else.
He proved it Wednesday afternoon, after finalizing a two-year, $18 million extension that will keep him pitching the ninth inning for the Angels at least through the 2017 season. The deal will pay Street $8 million in 2016 and $9 million in 2017, and it includes a $10 million club option for the 2018 season, with a $1 million buyout.
Street will still make the $7 million he’s owed this season – on the last of a three-year, $21 million extension he signed with the Padres in July 2012 – and will make a total of $34 million in his four full seasons with the Angels if his option is picked up.
It falls a little short of the extension Street eyed at the start of Spring Training, at four years and somewhere between $36 million and $46 million – but it was enough.
“You can’t let your ego get involved,” Street said from the podium at Angel Stadium. “You have to make decisions based on reality and what you really want. I put a lot of value on a lot of other things. First and foremost is happiness of family. Second, my loyalty to winning. I told my teammates in there, ‘If I didn’t think you guys were worth a hill of beans, I wouldn’t have signed this contract.’”
Talks between Street and Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto began in November and never really stopped.
“There was always steady progress, throughout the whole time,” Street said.
“We spent many, many days and hours talking about this,” Dipoto said, “dating back to being in the middle of my vacation walking around in the beaches of Hawaii talking to Huston on a cell phone.”
It all turned early in Spring Training, when Dipoto and Street finally met face-to-face.
Street suggested Sushi Roku, a swanky, high-priced Japanese restaurant in West Scottsdale, and Dipoto obliged. They shared a bottle of wine, ran through an inordinate amount of sushi and spent the better part of four hours talking – about the Angels, about a potential extension, about the game, about life.
The bill was $600, and Dipoto insisted on paying.
“I came back into the office the next day and threw the receipt on the table,” Dipoto said. “It was pure fascination.”
And it was ultimately worth it.
Street has been as steady as they come throughout his 11-year career, posting a 2.83 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP, saving 286 games – tied with Rod Beck for 29th on the all-time list – and cracking two All-Star teams. Over the last five years, his 91.9-percent conversion rate leads the Majors.
“The thing that appeals to me about Huston is you have a three-pitch closer who understands how to carve the strike zone and isn’t ultra-reliant on any one thing,” Dipoto said. “He isn’t ultra-reliant on velocity, he isn’t ultra-reliant on one pitch being any more dominant than the other, he isn’t ultra-reliant on facing righties or lefties. He’s been very consistent in what he does, and he really brings a sense of calm to you.”
The Angels acquired Street from the Padres in a six-player deal last July, parting with four intriguing prospects – Taylor Lindsey, Elliot Morris, Jose Rondon, R.J. Alvarez – because they felt Street could change the makeup of their entire roster.
Then they watched it happen.
Street’s presence moved the reliable Joe Smith to the eighth inning and Kevin Jepsen to the seventh, giving the Angels a lethal back end of the bullpen for the first time in a long time. Jepsen is gone, but Smith is signed through the 2016 season, locking down the final six outs of a game.
“As a manager, your IQ is tied to your bullpen,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “A guy like Huston has a history of making his manager look smart.”
Street began contract negotiations as a self-represented player, then rehired his former agent, Alan Hendricks, to tackle the bulk of the negotiations when the regular season began, so Street could focus on his job on the field.
About a week ago, Street and his wife – six months pregnant with the couple’s third boy – decided to accept the dollars and years the Angels had been offering. The couple has grown fond of the house they rent in Sunset Beach, and as a closer, Street believes it’s necessary to be on a team that is committed to winning long term.
Free agency can wait.
“You want to be where you want to be,” Street said. “In free agency, the only thing you’re really going for is money, and you have to follow where the money is. That’s just not a position I want to be in. Winning is the thing that drove my position, first and foremost, from a professional standpoint. From a personal standpoint, I’m staring at the ocean when I wake up in the morning, with my wife and my kids. I’m very, very lucky to be where I am.”