Three weeks ago, the Padres let general manager Josh Byrnes go, and team executive chairman Ron Fowler declared with emphasis, "This is not a fire sale!"
But on Friday night, it sure felt like a fire sale was starting.
The Padres traded 2-time All-Star Huston Street, the most efficient closer in baseball this season and arguably their best player, to the Los Angeles Angels for a package of four minor league prospects. The Friars will also send minor league pitcher Trevor Gott to the Angels.
For Street, the news was not a surprise.
"Blackie (manager Bud Black) called down during the game and said, hey, didn't want you to be caught off guard why we're not using you here, but there's some stuff going on," said Street. "He didn't really have to tell me much more than that."
Street said the organization kept him in the loop on trade talks as much as it could, something he appreciates. He could become a free agent after the season, and didn't rule out the possibility of returning.
"I love this place," said Street. "I'd come back. Obviously, when you have personal success, you have great memories, but I signed back here during the 2012 season because I believed we can win. I still believe this team can win. It's been three of my favorite years of my life."
So, is this just the beginning of the Padres trade season?
"We have to make that assessment, almost, day by day," said Assistant General Manager A.J. Hinch, who is one of three people handling the G.M. duties while the Padres search for a replacement for Byrnes. "The reality is, we're plenty of games under .500 that we've got to balance the here and now with what we can get moving forward. How many does that mean? I don't know. In this particular deal we felt like it was something we had to move on, given the talent we're getting back."
And what is that talent they're getting back? A haul of minor leaguers regarded as the top of the Angels system.
Second baseman Taylor Lindsey, relief pitcher R.J. Alvarez, shortstop Jose Rondon and starting pitcher Elliot Morris are all now part the San Diego system. However, none of them will join the big league club yet.
Lindsey is a 2nd baseman with Triple-A Salt Lake City who some scouts think can develop in to a solid run producer. In 75 games for the Bees, he hit .247 with eight homers and 30 runs batted in. Lindsey did miss three weeks last month after suffering a concussion, but Padres assistant General Manager A.J. Hinch said the Padres are not concerned.
"We did a thorough exam and feel very comfortable with the medical review," said Hinch.
Lindsey will report to Triple-A El Paso.
Alvarez is a right-hander with an electric arm, showing off a fastball that hits 100 miles per hour. He's only allowed one earned run in 27.0 innings with Double-A Arkansas.
However, he also missed more than a month with tenderness in his pitching elbow. Since coming off the disabled list he's pitched 9.0 innings, striking out 10 while only allowing five hits. He'll head to San Antonio.
Rondon is a Venezuelan-born shortstop who has a knack for putting the ball in play for Single-A Inland Empire. He's currently 5th in the California League with a .327 batting average. Rondon recently played in the MLB Futures Game at Target Field in Minnesota. Although his defense at shortstop is above-average, the Padres just used their first round pick on Trea Turner, so Rondon might be used as a utility-type player of start learning the outfield. He'll join Lake Elsinore.
Morris was the Angels' 4th round pick from 2013. This year he was promoted to the California League, where he's gone 3-3 with a 4.17 ERA in nine starts. The Padres think he can continue to develop as a starting pitcher. Morris will join Rondon with the Storm.
Ramona native Nick Vincent will re-join the Padres on Saturday to take Street's spot on the 25-man roster.
For now, Joaquin Benoit (who took the loss when he gave up a 9th inning run in Friday night's 5-4 loss to the Mets at Petco Park) will take over the closer's role, something he did admirably in Detroit in 2013. At least, for now he will. Benoit has also been the subject of trade talks, along with 3rd baseman Chase Headley and outfielder Carlos Quentin.
With 13 days to go until the MLB trade deadline, almost anyone could be on the move. Or not.
"We've got a lot of good players that teams have asked about," said Hinch, "but that doesn't mean we're just open to trading everyone."