Huge, huge news tonight: the Seattle Mariners have gotten the young hitter they desired, while the New York Yankees have gotten the young pitcher they were looking for. The Yankees have acquired Michael Pineda from the Mariners in exchange for catcher Jesus Montero. Other names are in the deal, but they haven’t leaked out yet.
Pineda won the Rookie of the Year award here at TOC this offseason on the strength of a 3.74 ERA (3.42 FIP) in 171 innings. The 22 year old Pineda struck out 173 and walked 55 in those 171 innings. He was expected to anchor the Seattle rotation for years to come along with Felix Hernandez. The Yankees apparently tried to acquire Hernandez from the Mariners initially, and according to Jon Heyman, were prepared to offer a package of Montero, Manny Banuelos, and Dellin Betances, but the Mariners had no plans to move their ace.
Montero was expected to be a cornerstone for the Yankees in the future, despite not really being suited to catch long-term. Montero had a brief, 69 plate appearance tenure in the big leagues this season, and had a .328/.406/.590 line with four home runs. On the season at AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre, Montero had a .288/.348/.467 line in 463 plate appearances, a down year for him. Montero, also 22 years old, was expected to be the Yankees DH for the 2012 season after the retirement of Jorge Posada.
Once we learn the other names in the deal (it’s apparently a four player trade), we’ll update this post with some analysis on them as well. The Yankees are now in the market for a designated hitter, and there are plenty of options on the market (which we’ll discuss at another time) from the big (Prince Fielder), to the familiar (Johnny Damon), to the enemy (JD Drew). New York now solidifies the top of their rotation with a great young option behind CC Sabathia, and this will take some pressure off of Ivan Nova in his second season. But then again, it will thrust more pressure onto Pineda, from competing in relative obscurity in Seattle to the bright lights of New York.
The Mariners now have acquired the top-shelf bat they’ve been searching for, and this will presumably take them out of the Fielder derby. Seattle could believe that Montero is their catcher of the future as opposed to a DH, but he won’t be in that role in 2012 with Miguel Olivo behind the dish. Regardless of where Montero plays, he will be playing every day in Seattle, something that the Yankees seemed hesitant to do for him.
UPDATE: We’ve received word of the other two players in the deal. New York will send Hector Noesi to Seattle, while the Mariners are sending Jose Campos to the Yankees. Mark ranked Campos as “good” in his listing of the top Mariners prospects earlier this winter. The 19 year-old Campos had a 2.32 ERA, 85 strikeouts, and 13 walks in 81 1/3 innings for Everett of the short-season Northwest League. In the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason, he has a 3.26 ERA, 25 strikeouts and 19 walks in 30 1/3 innings. As for Noesi, he did not rank among the top Yankees prospects this offseason due to ineligibility. He threw 56 1/3 innings in the majors for the Yankees with a 4.43 ERA, 45 strikeouts, and 22 walks. The 24 year-old also threw 24 2/3 innings at AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre with a 3.28 ERA, 17 walks, and nine strikeouts.
Knowing both of these names now, it looks like the Yankees got the better end of the deal. Campos is a legitimate young arm to add to the duo of Betances and Banuelos, and Noesi had a major down year in 2011, getting his first taste of the majors. If Pineda doesn’t crack under the pressure of New York, this deal could be a home run for the Yankees.