Friday, January 13, 2012
Updated: January 14, 2:45 PM ET
Source: Jesus Montero dealt to Mariners
The New York Yankees have traded top prospect Jesus Montero and right-handed pitcher Hector Noesi to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for phenom pitcher Michael Pineda and righty Jose Campos, a source told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark.
The Yankees receive the 22-year-old Pineda after he went 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA for the Mariners as a rookie last year.
After an up-and-down year in Triple-A, Montero came up to the majors and showed off his electric bat. In 18 games, he hit .328 with four home runs and 28 RBIs. He was expected to be the Yankees designated hitter this season.
While there are no questions about Montero's bat, there are some doubts on whether he can catch in the majors. The Yankees almost dealt Montero once before to the Mariners in a 2010 trade for Cliff Lee. The trade fell through and the Mariners ended up sending Lee to the Texas Rangers.
Pineda adds more youth to the Yankees' rotation behind CC Sabathia. After Pineda, the Yankees have Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes, who are both 25 years old.
Hughes will likely have to compete with Freddy Garcia and A.J. Burnett for the fourth and fifth starter spots.
Later Friday though, the Yankees added yet another arm, signing former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, sources told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney.
The deals are contingent upon those involved passing physicals, according to the source.
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.
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 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 for 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. Overall, he 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 Blake 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.
ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand and The Associated Press contributed to this report.