The New York Yankees made a big slash into an otherwise quiet off-season Friday night when they acquired two elite starting pitchers.
The Yankees made a trade on Friday, acquiring 6’7″ right-hander Michael Pineda and Jose Campos from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for prospect catcher Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi.
Pineda was one of the only sources of good for an otherwise terrible Seattle Mariners team once again in 2011. He posted a 9-10 (win-loss) record in 28 games while holding the opposition to a 2.11 BAA in his rookie season in the big leagues.
Jesus Montero on the other hand, is a sure prospect that finally made his major-league debut for the Yankees this past season. Montero was used sparingly however, only appearing in 18 regular season games and one playoff game but played great. The regular season saw him hit .328, and in just one game in the post-season he went 2-2 while scoring once in Game 4 of the ALDS against the Detroit Tigers.
The other pitcher acquired on Friday by New York is Hiroki Kuroda. The 36-year-old right-hander has reportedly signed a one year deal with the Bronx Bombers worth $10 million. In 2011, Kuroda had his best year to date in America, starting in a personal high 32 games while posting a 13-16 record and an ERA of 3.07. Kuroda also posted a WAR of 2.4, his second lowest WAR since 2009 when he pitched a significantly fewer amount of innings in 2009.
This move turns out to be very even for both sides. While finding out the trade through Twitter and e-mail on my way home from a Ryerson Rams 3-2 shootout loss to the Waterloo Warriors in OUA women’s hockey action, I thought this was a great addition for both teams. I am a bit surprised that the Mariners were willing to move Pineda. A King Felix-Pineda, 1-2 punch would have been deadly for years to come. Now, it is all the more sign that the Mariners will not compete in the AL West for a while. Montero will add something they have been lacking though, and that is offense. In 2011, no Mariner hit over .300 and over 20 home runs. Montero has great offensive assets that will hopefully help the Mariners get over that hump. Young talent such as Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak and now Montero will certainly be fun to watch in a few years time.
The Yankees pick up two pitchers, one of whom was one of baseball’s breakout stories of 2011 in Pineda. The depth of their team just got a whole lot better and the Pineda move is opposite of a normal Brian Cashman transaction. Cashman acquires a very young pitcher (Pineda is only 22 years old) that has time to fully develop with the Yankees organization as compared to when they’ve gone out and signed a 28-year-old free agent who is in his prime. He also signs a pitcher that pitched well for a sub-par Dodgers team over the past few years. Kuroda will have run support now in New York and that could be key to his success.
Another positive for the Yankees in this trade is that it will make pitchers such as A.J. Burnett better. Burnett is the picture of inconsistency and with strong seasons last year from Freddy Garcia and Ian Nova; if Burnett doesn’t pitch well in spring training, he may find himself on either the trading block or in the bullpen come opening day.
Both teams came out as winners on Friday night. Seattle will either get a full-time catcher or first baseman in Montero and the Yankees pick up of Pineda in the trade and Kuroda from free agency. The Yankees are once again a favorite in the American League while the re-model of the Mariners continues to blossom.