It turns out that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was just waiting for the right moment to strike. Did baseball really think the Yankees would be outdone by the likes of the Florida Marlins and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim?
After a quiet offseason from the usually aggressive Bronx Bombers, Cashman may have solved the Yankees pitching dilemma in one night. The Yankees parted ways with prized hitting prospect Jesus Montero and landed talented right handed pitcher Michael Pineda in a four-player deal with the Seattle Mariners. No King Felix, but the trade does sure up a pitching staff that in 2011 was carried by C.C. Sabathia and the bullpen.
Cashman and the Yanks then went ahead and signed free agent veteran pitcher Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year contract. Both the free agent acquisition and trade are pending physicals from all players involved.
Also coming to the Bronx as part of the deal that ended Montero’s brief career with the Yankees is minor league pitcher Jose Campos. The Yankees also said goodbye to pitcher Hector Noesi.
Montero burst upon the scene as a September call-up last season as a designated hitter and quickly became a fan favorite at Yankee Stadium, batting .328 in 18 games, while also showcasing the power in his bat, slugging four home runs and knocking in 12 RBI.
It was apparent early during his call-up with the Yankees that Montero could hit, but the Yankees had to figure out where they were going to put him in the field. Montero, 22, came up as a catcher, and while scouts raved about his bat and presence in the batters box, they weren’t too high on his catching ability.
Cashman decided to part ways with the talented hitter, and leave those unanswered questions about his defense to the Mariners who sorely needed another bat in the lineup.
The trade seems to make sense for both teams.
The acquisition of Pineda, 22, provides the Yankees with a talented pitcher that they hope will fit nicely into their rotation that has held them back the last two years. Pineda, a 6-7, 260-pound pitcher was selected to the All-Star team as a rookie last season when he pitched to a 3.74 ERA and struck out 173 batters in 171 innings, but struggled toward the end of the season.
The signing of Kuroda is also significant as it now adds more depth to a beleaguered pitching staff. The deal is worth $10 million, according to reports.
The Yankees rotation now consists of C.C. Sabathia, Kuroda, Pineda, Ivan Nova and either Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett or Freddy Garcia as the fifth starter.