Jesus Montero Rumors
The Mariners needed hitting, the Yankees needed pitching. The two teams addressed each other's needs in a blockbuster trade of young stars, as right-handers Michael Pineda and Jose Campos will go to the Bronx in exchange for catcher/DH Jesus Montero and righty Hector Noesi. Both teams confirmed the trade this afternoon.
The Yankees re-signed C.C. Sabathia and Freddy Garcia this winter, but those moves amounted to just standing pat with a rotation that (after Sabathia) contained several question marks. In Pineda, however, the Yankees now have one of the top young arms in the game and one who has already showed he can perform at the Major League level. Pineda (pictured) posted a 3.74 ERA, a 3.15 K/BB ratio and a 9.1 K/9 rate in 28 starts last season, earning an All-Star appearance and a fifth-place finish in the AL Rookie Of The Year vote. Pineda recently turned 23 and is under club control through 2016.
Campos, 19, is another intriguing young arm. John Sickels of Minor League Ball ranked Campos as the fifth-best prospect in Seattle's system going into 2012, noting that while Campos' secondary pitches need some polish, "his upside is very high, he throws hard, and already throws strikes." Campos is coming off a dominant campaign in low Class-A ball in 2011, posting a 2.32 ERA and a whopping 6.54 K/BB in 14 starts. Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears from an NL executive that if Campos was in this year's amateur draft, "he is [a] no-doubt top-10 pick" (Twitter link).
Montero was a top-four prospect in both 2010 and 2011 according to Baseball America and the 22-year-old showed why when he posted a .996 OPS in 69 September plate appearances. Montero was drafted as a catcher but questions about his defensive capabilities had several pundits projecting his long-term future to be at designated hitter or first base. In New York, these spots will be blocked by Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez for the next several seasons, but the bat-starved Mariners have plenty of room in the lineup. Montero immediately projects as Seattle's probable #3 hitter, splitting time between DH and catcher, and it's easy to see Montero hitting behind Dustin Ackley for years to come.
Montero was very nearly a Mariner in July 2010, as he headlined a prospect package the Yankees were ready to send to Seattle for Cliff Lee. The M's, however, pulled out of that trade and ended up dealing Lee to the Rangers. Yankees management was reportedly upset that the Mariners pulled out of the deal at the last minute, but whatever hard feelings existed between the two clubs clearly weren't enough to keep them from doing business 18 months later.
Noesi appeared in 30 games for New York last season (two of them starts), posting a 4.47 ERA and a 2.05 K/BB ratio. Noesi turns 25 later this month and amassed impressive numbers over six seasons in the Yankee farm system. Noesi should get a shot at filling Pineda's rotation spot in Seattle and could blossom at pitcher-friendly Safeco Field.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com was the first to announce the trade as official, with MLB.com's Greg Johns adding Campos and Noesi's involvement. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick first heard of a "significant trade" involving a "young impact hitter" coming to the Mariners earlier today, and Larry Stone of the Seattle Times was the first to cite Pineda and Montero in the deal, as he had heard "rumblings in that direction."
Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.
- The Scutaro trade freed up approximately $6MM for the Red Sox to use on an "aggressive bid" for a starting pitcher, says ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (Twitter links). Michael Silverman of The Boston Herald confirmed that the trade was made trade strictly for salary relief. Earlier tonight we learned that the Sox have intensified their pursuit of Roy Oswalt.
- The Red Sox are comfortable with a Nick Punto/Mike Aviles platoon replacing Scutaro, but WEEI.com's Alex Speier hears they will continue to pursue an upgrade at any position, not just shortstop.
- Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal confirmed that Mortensen does have a minor league option remaining, so the Red Sox can send him to Triple-A if they choose (Twitter link)
- Jesus Montero has arrived in Seattle following a visa/passport issue, reports MLB.com's Greg Johns. He underwent his physical today, but a formal announcement of the trade sending him from the Yankees to the Mariners isn't expected until Monday.
- We posted some Orioles notes earlier today, including a quote from GM Dan Duquette about the possibility of adding Prince Fielder.
Friday night links..
- The Giants and the agent for Tim Lincecum have made significant progress since exchanging arbitration figures and both sides are confident that a resolution can be reached before a hearing would be scheduled, writes Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News.
- The Reds could look to land an infielder via trade, writes MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.
- It appears that talks between the Rockies and Red Sox regarding Marco Scutaro are dormant, but Rob Bradford of WEEI.com writes that Boston's possible motivation for a move involving Scutaro would be to free up payroll. The club has reportedly expressed interest in White Sox starter Gavin Floyd and free agent outfielder Cody Ross, but neither move could be made unless a trade was made to offer budgetary relief according to a source.
- The Royals and Alex Gordon aren't particularly close on a deal but talks remain cordial and both sides want to get something done, tweets Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.
- Left-hander Jeff Francis is starting to attract more interest from teams in the market for a starting pitcher including the Mariners, Reds, Blue Jays, and Mets, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (Twitter links)
- Jesus Montero has dealt with his visa issue and is scheduled to travel from Florida to Seattle today for his Mariners physical, tweets Ken Davidoff of Newsday.
- Braves GM Frank Wren doesn't believe that his club has a major personnel need, writes Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Wren also believes that this year's bullpen figures to be even deeper that last year's.
- Joe Capozzi of The Palm Beach Post (via Twitter) is told that the Marlins have no interest in bringing Ivan Rodriguez back.
Here's the latest from the AL East, starting with an update on two pending moves involving the Yankees...
- Jesus Montero is dealing with a passport or visa issue at the moment and is unable to travel to Seattle for his physical, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Once that is resolved, the trade sending him and Hector Noesi from the Yankees to the Mariners for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos will be made official.
- Bob Klapisch of The Bergen Record says (on Twitter) that Hiroki Kuroda is still in Japan, so he has yet to take his physical and finalize his one-year contract with the Yankees. Klapisch adds that like Montero, Campos is stuck in Venezuela at the moment.
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington indicated to MLB.com's Ian Browne that the team is unlikely to make any big changes to the roster before Spring Training. "If Spring Training were to start tomorrow, we'd feel good about where we are and [we'd be] ready to put the team together," said the GM.
- Though the Yankees currently have $1-2MM to spend on a designated hitter, they could free up cash by dealing A.J. Burnett, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets. Burnett has $33MM remaining on his contract, and it would be a surprise if the Yankees free up more than $10MM via trade.
- Newsday's Ken Davidoff suggests Raul Ibanez might be the best DH option for the Yankees, assuming Johnny Damon signs with a team that can offer more plate appearances.
- Steve Melewski of MASNSports.com reports that former Oriole Brady Anderson was named special assistant to Orioles GM Dan Duquette today. Melewski also lists some changes in the responsibilities handled by other front office employees.
Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post.
Last night's news was highlighted by the Yankees' signing of Hiroki Kuroda and the four-player trade that sent Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi to the Mariners in exchange for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos. ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that it might not be until next week that the trade is announced (as teams wait for completion of physicals), and opines that it may be the Blue Jays who are hurt most by this trade, as their rotation once again looks too thin to compete in the AL East. Here's a look at the highlights from Olney's latest blog (ESPN Insider required)...
- Both the Yankees and Mariners believe that Montero will be able to stick at catcher, which many in the industry feel is a must in order for the trade to make sense for Seattle.
- One executive posed the question: "Why is Yoenis Cespedes playing in any Winter ball games?" Olney says Cespedes' first few games have looked rough, as he hasn't played for a long time. With questions about his ability to pick up a breaking ball, he could potentially hurt his value with a poor showing, and doesn't stand to gain much if he plays well.
- The Indians seem to be in position to land a good first baseman, writes Olney. Casey Kotchman, Carlos Pena, and Derrek Lee all remain unsigned, and if the Nationals sign Prince Fielder, Adam LaRoche will become available as well. Olney points out that all four are regarded as good fielders, which is crucial to Cleveland's groundball staff (Justin Masterson, Derek Lowe, and Fausto Carmona are all extreme groundball pitchers). Olney writes that there were indications earlier this offseason that Lee did not want to play for the Tribe.
- With the Diamondbacks showing interest in Bartolo Colon, GM Kevin Towers, who spent a year working for the Yankees, will "presumably get an honest read about what [the Yankees] feel Colon could contribute."
It's not every day that two of baseball's best young stars are swapped for each other, but the Mariners and Yankees pulled off just such a deal today, as Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi went to Seattle in exchange for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos. Here is some of the early reaction to this stunning trade, plus some information on how the deal came together...
- "The risk for both clubs is low. The reward for both clubs is outstanding. This could be a transformational deal that will have fans of both clubs buzzing about for a long time," writes MLB.com's Bernie Pleskoff.
- Replacing pitching via minor leaguers or the free agent market is far easier than attracting top-caliber hitters in Seattle, notes MLB.com's Greg Johns.
- Mike Salk of ESPN 710 Radio in Seattle outlines the reasons why he "loves" the deal for the Mariners. Also from Salk (on Twitter), he hears from "a non-M's baseball guy" who believes Noesi is a better long-term option than Pineda.
- The trade makes the Yankees the favorites in the AL East, writes Scott Miller of CBSSports.com. Miller talks to two scouts who rave about the Yankees' sudden surplus of young pitching that also includes Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos.
- Dave Cameron of the U.S.S. Mariner blog sees Montero as developing into a Carlos Lee-type of hitter who is productive but not quite a superstar. Cameron thinks the deal will look better for the Mariners if they were to sign a free agent starter like Roy Oswalt or Edwin Jackson, since then the team would have Montero's bat plus a pitcher that could match Pineda's production.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman feels he took a "huge risk" with the trade, reports The Record's Bob Klapisch (via Twitter). "I gave up a ton (for Pineda)," Cashman said. "To me, Montero is Mike Piazza. He's Miguel Cabrera."
- "Some execs from other AL East teams believe Yankees just made an incredible trade," tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
- The two teams were "talking for weeks" about the deal, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link). Each side told the other that they had limited funds to address their needs.
- The Yankees initially tried to acquire Felix Hernandez from the Mariners, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter) and were willing to offer a package that included Montero, Betances, Banuelos and more.
6:06pm: The Mariners have moved closer to a trade that would net them a "young impact hitter," reports ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. A source calls the trade "significant" and says Brandon League is not part of the deal (both links via Twitter).
8:16pm: At the beginning of the offseason, the asking price for Jackson was in the Lackey/Burnett range ($82.5MM), tweets ESPN.com’s Buster Olney. The Yankees haven’t had talks with Boras about Jackson, tweets Jack Curry of the YES Network. No talks are expected unless his asking price drops.
TUESDAY, 2:53pm: Jackson seeks $15-17MM per year, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Boras' promotional book on Jackson compares him to C.J. Wilson, Mark Buehrle, John Lackey, A.J. Burnett, and Derek Lowe. All of those pitchers received at least $14.5MM per year, averaging $15.6MM. Of course, Wilson and Buehrle just signed and the other three contracts were regrettable. The Yankees will continue dialogue with Jackson, writes Heyman. The process is starting to remind Joe Pawlikowski of River Ave. Blues of the Yankees' signing of Rafael Soriano last year.
MONDAY, 11:21am: Edwin Jackson's asking price is approximately $60MM over five years, writes ESPNNewYork's Wallace Matthews. The Yankees like the free agent righty, "but not at that price," writes Matthews. Matthews' colleague Buster Olney tweeted the same, saying that unless the Yankees' budget grows, there's no room for Jackson.
Ultimately I expect Jackson to settle for something closer to four years and $44MM, which wouldn't be an awful price for a 28-year-old innings eater with a touch of upside.
Additionally, Matthews writes that the Cubs' asking price for Matt Garza is "out of the question" for the Yankees. He says the Cubs want at least two and possibly all three of Yankees top prospects Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos, and Dellin Betances. The Red Sox, Blue Jays, Tigers, and Marlins have also been connected to Garza in recent days.
The Athletics have already traded one of their young starting pitchers this offseason, but it wasn't Gio Gonzalez even though his name is popular on the trade rumor circuit. Here's the latest on the 26-year-old left-hander...
- The Mets are unlikely to pursue Gonzalez according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, with one team official saying talks never moved passed the preliminary phase. “Nothing serious,” said the official, with another source saying they are "unlikely" to continue pursuing the southpaw.
- Martino says the Athletics asked the Yankees for Jesus Montero and top pitching prospects in exchange for Gonzalez when they discussed his availability earlier this winter.
A week ago, Jon Heyman reported that the Yankees were unwilling to trade Manny Banuelos or Jesus Montero for White Sox lefty John Danks. The newly-minted CBS Sports scribe now tweets that the White Sox asked for two of Montero, Banuelos, or Dellin Betances, and the Yankees might give up one in a package.
It's easy to see why the Yankees have resisted so far, as Danks is only under team control for one year. He'll certainly be motivated with free agency on the horizon, and he would be just 27 years old on the open market. If Danks can put up 32 starts with a sub-4.00 ERA, as was his custom prior to 2011, I think he'll be able to top four years and $50MM. Edwin Jackson's upcoming contract may set the bar.
One executive told ESPN's Buster Olney during the Winter Meetings that the White Sox sought a "Ubaldo Jimenez" package for Danks, which would be hard to defend since Jimenez came with two-plus years of cost certainty. In addition to the Yankees, AL East rivals such as the Blue Jays and Red Sox appear to have checked in.