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It’s unofficial, but it looks like the Yankees got some of the pitching they so desperately needed. New York has reportedly traded top prospect Jesus Montero for Seattle’s talented rookie pitcher Michael Pineda (9-10, 3.74 ERA), and they’ve signed former Los Angeles Dodgers righty Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year deal (more on that later).
From where I sit, which is as a New Yorker and lifelong Yankee fan who now lives in Seattle, I think this trade is a win/win deal for both teams. The Yankees get to keep their own young pitching prospects and slot Pineda in the number-two hole, a position he’s comfortable with having been the number-two guy behind Mariners ace Felix Hernandez. As for the Mariners, they get some much-needed offense (Montero hit .328 with a .406 on-base percentage in 61 at-bats) and a young catcher.
I love Montero, but the Yankees had no room for him to play every day. They have a glut of DH types as they didn’t see the youngster as a starting catcher and, at some point, Alex Rodriguez and/or Mark Teixeira are going to be getting the bulk of their playing time at DH. Plus, the Bombers still have stud catching prospects in the likes of Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine, not to mention gritty and gutsy Russell Martin.
The Yanks initially inquired about King Felix, but the M’s said no, even after they offered not just Montero, but also top pitching prospects Dellin Betances and Manuel Banuelos. For Yankee fans perplexed as to why the Mariners wouldn’t trade Hernandez for a bundle of big name prospects, let me explain: King Felix is the face of the Mariners. On the days he pitches, the whole ballpark, not just the King’s Court, is filled with excitement. The whole city is abuzz. He is the draw. Plus, Hernandez actually resides in Seattle for a good chunk of the year — a real rarity in Rain City — even sending his daughter to school there. It would be like trading Derek Jeter in his prime.
Pitcher Hector Noesi was also sent to the Mariners (while the Yankees got minor leaguer Jose Campos). And now we know why. The Yankees also signed former Dodgers righty Kuroda (13-16, 3.07 ERA) for a one-year deal reportedly worth $10 million. Kuroda is a workhorse and an innings-eater who will fit in nicely in the middle of the rotation.
The best part of all these dealings is the Yankees didn’t give up the farm or spend a ton of money, so they can still be in contention for the ace pitchers (Cole Hamels, Matt Cain) who will be on the market next offseason. As it stands, on paper anyway, the Bombers look primed to once again make a run for the top of the American League East.