SEATTLE – Considering the heady talent that Brian Cashman has controlled in his tenure as general manager of the New York Yankees, his belief in the talent of Jesus Montero has to bring hope for the offensively starved Seattle Mariners.
“He may very well be the best player I’ve traded,” Cashman said.
The Mariners and Yankees completed their four-player trade on Monday that sent Montero and 24-year-old pitcher Hector Noesi to the Mariners in exchange for All-Star pitcher Michael Pineda and 19-year-old pitching prospect Jose Campos.
While Noesi and Campos both have potential to help their new clubs, this trade is all about the exchange of the slugging Montero for the powerful Pineda. And while there will eventually be winners and losers in the trade, for now it’s simply need-for-need: power arm in exchange for power bat.
“I look at it like we had a need and we were trying to address that need, and to get really good players you have to give up really good players,” Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik said. “If this goes down and helps the Yankees and helps us both long term and short term it’s a win-win for everybody.”
The conversations first began about a month ago after the Mariners had identified Montero as the young bat they wanted to try to acquire. Zduriencik simply posed the question to Cashman about what it would take to get the 22-year-old Venezuelan, who hit .328 with four homers and 12 RBIs in a September call-up with the Yankees last year that earned Montero a spot on the playoff roster.
The answer came back — Pineda.
“It wasn’t like we were making someone available,” Zduriencik said. “What we were doing is acquiring someone we really needed.”
Pineda immediately brings youth to the Yankees rotation. He just turned 23 and was an All-Star in his rookie season last year. Pineda got off to a blistering start to his first season before going through anticipated rookie struggles. Pineda went 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA and led all of baseball in holding right-handed batters to just a .184 average. He struck out 173 in 171 innings.
And he solved New York’s problem of finding acceptable starters on the free-agent market.
Seattle could part with Pineda because of its depth 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.