January 14, 2012 in Sports

Mariners trade Pineda to Yankees for catcher Montero

Tim Booth Associated Press
 

SEATTLE – 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 Yankees for catcher Jesus Montero on Friday, a swap involving two stars younger than 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 on defense.

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 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, it 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.

Pineda was 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA in his rookie season.

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