This is why the New York Yankees pay Brian Cashman the big bucks to be general manager.
Cashman reconstructed the Yankees starting rotation Friday night by making a bold trade with the Seattle Mariners for right-hander Michael Pineda and throwing a lot of money at free-agent righty Hiroki Kuroda.
The Yankees moved their top prospect, slugging catcher Jesus Montero, along with right-hander Hector Noesi to the M's for Pineda and 19-year-old right-hander Jose Campos. Larry Stone of the Seattle Times broke the story.
Wow! Some people love a parade. I love a baseball trade, especially one featuring the two best young players in their respective organizations. When's the last time a deal like this was made? Josh Hamilton for Edinson Volquez in 2007?
The key for the Yankees, of course, is stabilizing what was a spotty rotation in 2011. Pineda, also 22, pitched like an ace in the first half for the Mariners in 2011 before falling off in the second half. He still finished with 173 strikeouts, an opponents .211 batting average and a 3.74 ERA in 171 innings. Also appealing: He has "ace" stuff and appears to have the same kind of mentality.
The Yankees also reminded everyone how much money they have by signing Kuroda to a $10 million deal for 2012. Kuroda, who turns 37 next month, has a 3.45 ERA in 699 career innings, all with the Los Angeles Dodgers. With CC Sabathia, Pineda and Kuroda in the rotation, the Yankees won't have to worry about the front of their rotation anymore. They also have some room to breathe if Ivan Nova regresses, Phil Hughes doesn't make a sharp turnaround and Freddy Garcia doesn't sweat out another effective season. And if you're wondering why A.J. Burnett hasn't been mentioned ... you are very observant.
Signing Kuroda is one thing, but it's not anywhere as gutsy as trading Montero, who is 22 years old with a dynamite (not literally) bat. The problem with Montero: He's not exactly the second coming (pardon the Jesus pun) of Johnny Bench behind the plate. His best position, Baseball Prospectus Kevin Goldstein and others say, is DH. In 69 at-bats with the Yankees in 2011, he batted .328/.406/.590 with four homers and four doubles.
Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik needed to upgrade his team's offense and even though Montero was a tad disappointing to the Yanks at Class AAA in '11, he projects to be perhaps Seattle's best hitter already. An aside: Montero nearly went to the Mariners in a trade for Cliff Lee (who eventually got moved to the Texas Rangers) in 2010.
Noesi and Campos aren't insignificant pieces, just not as sexy. Noesi gives the M's an OK arm for the rotation, probably/maybe, and Campos has more upside being five years younger. Baseball Instinct did a detailed write-up on Campos; it appears the Yankees did their homework.
It's going to be fascinating to watch this play out. The M's have young pitching coming up behind ace Felix Hernandez, and now they have a big stick in the middle of the lineup to help score him some runs. The Yankees are the Yankees, and Cashman is the best at his job in the business. Can you say "good deal for both teams"?
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