Yankees and Mariners Make a Trade

AP source: Pineda, Montero in Yanks-Mariners swap

By TIM BOOTH
AP Sports Writer
      SEATTLE (AP) – The Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees pulled
off a good old power play.
      Power pitcher for power hitter.

      The Mariners agreed to trade right-hander Michael Pineda to the
New York Yankees for catcher Jesus Montero on Friday, a swap
involving two young stars under the age of 23.

      A person familiar with the deal confirmed the trade to The
Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity
because no one was authorized to discuss the trade that will be
completed pending physicals.

      As part of the trade, the Yankees also sent 24-year-old pitcher
Hector Noesi to Seattle for 19-year-old righty Jose Campos.

      The deal addresses needs for both sides. The Yankees were
looking for another starter, preferably young, to add to their
rotation, while the Mariners were desperate for a slugger to add to
an offense that was among the worst historically the last few
seasons.

      In addition, another person familiar with the agreement told the
AP the Yankees had reached a deal with free agent pitcher Hiroki
Kuroda on a $10 million contract for one season. The 36-year-old
righty was 13-16 with a 3.07 ERA for the Dodgers last season.
Kuroda's contract is pending a physical.

      After losing in the first round of the playoffs, the Yankees
kept looking for pitching this winter after they passed on bidding
for the top free agents in what was a weak year for starters.

      They could part with the 22-year-old Montero because they have
several catchers in their system who are considered far better
defensively. They have Austin Romine at Triple-A, plus Russell
Martin earned an All-Star appearance in his first year with New
York and was praised for his work with the Yankees' pitching staff.

      In just 69 plate appearances, Montero hit four homers, drove in
12 runs and batted .328 for New York in a September call-up that
earned him a spot on their playoff roster. He showed patience at
the plate and an ability to hit with power to the opposite field.

      Montero hit .288 with 18 homers and 67 RBIs at Triple-A
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last year. Montero nearly came to Seattle
back in 2010 as part of a deal for Cliff Lee that fell apart at the
last minute. Lee was later traded to Texas for a bounty that
included prospective Seattle starting first baseman Justin Smoak
and right-hander Blake Beavan.

      Pineda, who turns 23 later this month, earned his way into the
Mariners' rotation with his performance last spring. By the end of
the season, he was in place as Seattle's No. 2 starter for the
future behind ace Felix Hernandez.

      But no matter who Seattle had throwing, they couldn't make up
for an offense that hit just .233 as a team, scored 556 runs –
worst in all of baseball – and hit only 109 homers.

      Most Seattle fans have pined for Prince Fielder to be the
offensive solution. For now, they'll have to settle for Montero's
potential.

      Pineda went 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA in his rookie season that
started fast, then endured typical rookie struggles as the season
progressed. One of Pineda's high points was starting at home
against the Yankees on May 27 when he was already 6-2. Pineda threw
five innings that night of a 4-3 Seattle victory.

      But Pineda's rookie problems started soon after. Over his final
17 starts, Pineda was 3-8 and his ERA ballooned to 4.74. Still,
Pineda managed to league all of baseball holding right-handed
batters to just a .184 average against and struck out 173 in 171
innings.

      Pineda was expendable because of Seattle's rich depth of
starters. The Mariners have Hernandez at the top of their rotation
and just signed Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma. Those two,
combined with lefty Jason Vargas and young prospects Charlie
Furbush and Beavan, will likely make up Seattle rotation to begin
the season.

      In the minors, three of Seattle's top prospects all project as
starting pitchers: right-hander Taijuan Walker, lefty Danny Hultzen
– the No. 2 pick in last year's amateur draft – and righty James
Paxton.

      
      (Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)