Michael Pineda Rumors

Quick Hits: Pineda, Lester, Rangers, Beede, Burnett

Two years after their trade with the Mariners, the Yankees may finally emerge as the winners in their trade for Michael PinedaDavid Waldstein of the New York Times writes. Jesus Montero's stock has fallen sharply in Seattle thanks to his poor hitting and conditioning, and now Pineda, who missed the entire 2012 season with shoulder trouble, has a chance to win a job in the Yankees' rotation. Pineda, who pitched sparingly in the minors last year, says he's finally healthy. "I want to be on the Yankees right away," he says. "I don’t want to go to Triple-A. But I don’t have control over the situation." Here are more notes from around baseball.

  • Jon Lester is heading into his last year before free agency, and it seems likely that he and the Red Sox will agree to terms on an extension before that happens. In a podcast, Tim Britton and Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal try to determine what a Lester extension might look like, and they arrive somewhere in the neighborhood of five years and $110MM guaranteed, perhaps with an option of some kind. The Red Sox likely will not want to guarantee more than five years for Lester, they suggest, and his recent workload (he threw 248 innings last year, including the postseason) could be a factor. Lester is already locked into a $13MM salary for 2014, so a five-year, $110MM extension would effectively add four years and $97MM.
  • It's unclear how many innings the Rangers will get from their starting pitchers, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes. Derek Holland is injured, Yu Darvish and Matt Harrison have back issues, Alexi Ogando hasn't proven he's durable, and Martin Perez is only 22. The Rangers could try to compensate by getting more innings out of their relievers. They could also try to make up for Holland's absence by signing Joe Saunders, who recently worked out for them. Tommy Hanson, Colby Lewis, Robbie Ross, Tanner Scheppers and Michael Kirkman could also be candidates to start.
  • Vanderbilt pitcher Tyler Beede now looks like a clear top-five draft pick, ESPN's Keith Law writes (Insider-only). Law notes that on Friday night, Beede demonstrated good stuff and solid command, with 92-95 MPH velocity and a strong changeup. Law writes that teams should consider taking Beede beginning with the No. 3 overall pick, with only NC State's Carlos Rodon and high school arm Tyler Kolek obviously representing better picks at this point.
  • A.J. Burnett, who made his 2014 spring debut on Sunday, helps clarify the Phillies' rotation, Matt Gelb of the Inquirer writes. As Ryan Lawrence of the Daily News noted earlier today, the back of the Phillies' rotation is uncertain — Cole Hamels, Jonathan Pettibone and Ethan Martin are all dealing with injuries, and it's not clear what they have in Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. Burnett gives the Phillies a reliable option to add to Cliff Lee and Kyle Kendrick.

Yankees Notes: Cano, Rangers, Granderson, Pineda

The Rangers contacted the Yankees earlier this season about the possibility of trading Robinson Cano, Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York reports.  Talks went nowhere as the Yankees simply said that Cano was unavailable.  The Rangers' interest, however, places them atop Marchand's list of the nine teams who could land Cano in free agency this winter.  Cano's presence would crowd a middle infield situation that already includes Jurickson Profar fighting for playing time with Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler, though one scout told Marchand that Texas could move Kinsler to first base.

Here are some more items from the Bronx…

  • The Dodgers, Phillies, Mariners, Cubs, Tigers, Nationals, Mets and the "mystery team" round out Marchand's list.  The Dodgers are reportedly not planning to bid on Cano this winter but one official tells Marchand "I'll believe it when I see it."  Another official noted that Phillies GM Ruben Amaro likes to be "creative," so he could try to sign Cano and move Chase Utley to third.
  • Curtis Granderson's agent, Matt Brown, tells Dan Martin of the New York Post that the Yankees are his client's "first choice" and that "he absolutely wants to stay" in New York.  Brown admitted that Granderson's injury-shortened 2013 season could impact his next contract "but I think people remember what he did the previous two years.”
  • Scouts tell Martin that Granderson isn't considered an injury risk going forward (his broken and forearm and fractured pinkie were both caused when he was hit by pitches) and there is speculation that the Rangers or Red Sox could be interested in Granderson's services.  One scout wonders how Granderson will fare away from hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium while other expected Granderson should find a big contract given the lack of power bats on the open market.
  • An AL scout who saw Michael Pineda pitch three times this year described the right-hander as a "back-end" starter, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger reports.  "He progressed and his arm strength improved, but he still had unreliable command and mechanics," the scout said.  Pineda averaged a 94.7 mph fastball with the Mariners in 2011 but the scout clocked him at between 91-93 mph in the minors.  Pineda has yet to throw a Major League pitch for the Yankees since he was acquired in January 2012.  He missed the entire 2012 season due to shoulder surgery and was limited to 10 minor league starts in 2013, though he posted a 3.32 ERA, 2.93 K/BB and 9.1 K/9 over those starts.
  • Earlier today, we collected the latest rumors about Joe Girardi's managerial future.

Mariners To Demote Jesus Montero

Mariners catcher Jesus Montero will be sent to Triple-A Tacoma today, reports Ryan Divish of The News Tribune.  Catcher Jesus Sucre will be selected to join the big league club, and it appears Montero won't do much catching at Triple-A.

It was a blockbuster challenge trade of two extremely promising and valuable young players. Montero had 18 excellent big league games for the Yankees under his belt when he was sent to the Mariners in January 2012.  The principal player coming to New York in the deal was soon-to-be 23-year-old righty Michael Pineda, who had averaged nearly 95 miles per hour on his fastball as a rookie, made the All-Star team, and finished fifth in the Rookie of the Year voting.  Young players of this caliber are rarely traded.  Things went south quickly for Pineda, as decreased velocity in his second Spring Training start was a harbinger of a shoulder injury that would lead to surgery in May 2012.  What's more, Pineda was arrested for a DUI in August of that year.  Pineda continues to work his way back from the surgery, with the expectation of making his Yankee debut this year.  Whether Pineda's rookie campaign was the high point in his career is anybody's guess.

Montero's first full season in 2012 was disappointing.  Known almost entirely for his offensive prowess, he posted a .260/.298/.386 line in 553 plate appearances.  Montero caught in 56 games, serving as DH in 78.  In a full-time catching role this year, he did even less with the bat.  As "a man without a position," as Divish puts it, the bar for Montero to become a regular designated hitter in the Majors is quite high.  Oh, and the reported connection to Biogenesis doesn't help.

There were a couple of additional players in the Montero-Pineda swap.  The Mariners acquired righty Hector Noesi, who hasn't impressed in 120 1/3 big league innings so far.  The Yankees added prospect Jose Campos, rated their fifth-best by Baseball America prior to the season.  Campos made only five starts last year in low A ball, missing most of the season due to a bone bruise or a small fracture in his elbow.  The injury has Campos on an innings limit in the 85-90 range this year.

One year and four months after the exciting Montero-Pineda swap, the players involved in the trade are a mess across the board, which leads to today's poll: which pair of players do you prefer moving forward? 



Rosenthal On Hammel, Pirates, Tigers, Gomez

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports points out that Jason Hammel has outperformed Jeremy Guthrie so far this season. The right-handers were traded for one another this offseason (with Matt Lindstrom also going to the Orioles) and Hammel has pitched well for Baltimore, while Guthrie is on Colorado’s disabled list. Here are more notes from Rosenthal:

  • Some considered Hammel a “passive competitor,” but Dan Duquette and the Orioles viewed him as a dependable innings eater. Hammel, 29, has a 1.73 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 through 26 innings for his new team.
  • Though Yankees GM Brian Cashman says his team did more background work than ever before acquiring Michael Pineda from Seattle, one rival executive says his club grew concerned. The right-hander showed diminished velocity in his final start of the 2011 season after struggling in the second half. Pineda will miss the 2012 season with a shoulder injury.
  • The Pirates aren’t scoring many runs, but rival executives like the trio of Alex Presley, Jose Tabata and Andrew McCutchen at the top of Pittsburgh's order, Rosenthal writes.
  • Tigers starters other than Justin Verlander and Drew Smyly have struggled so far this year, and rival executives expect Detroit to make a strong push for rotation help by the July trade deadline.
  • Brewers GM Doug Melvin told Rosenthal that Carlos Gomez would generate approximately as much interest as Yoenis Cespedes if you put him in a tryout camp. Gomez, who is two months younger than Cespedes, could be a late-bloomer, Melvin said.

Yankees Notes: Pineda, Cashman, Pettitte

Michael Pineda will miss the rest of the season to undergo and recover from arthroscopic shoulder surgery. The injury weakens the Yankees for the current season and creates questions about what the 23-year-old will contribute long-term. Here are the latest links regarding the Yankees and their pitching staff…

  • The Yankees were looking forward to strong pitching performances from Pineda at reasonable salaries that would help keep the team's payroll beneath the $189MM luxury tax threshold, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Yankees GM Brian Cashman says he regrets the injury, but not his team's decision-making process. “The deal we did I would do that ten times out of ten,” Cashman told Sherman. 
  • Andy Pettitte's return is suddenly much more vital to the Yankees, Sherman notes. The left-hander pitched five innings at Double-A Trenton last night, allowing three earned runs.
  • John Harper of the New York Daily News says it's not reasonable or fair to blame Cashman for Pineda's shoulder injury. The Yankees evaluated the right-hander's elbow and shoulder carefully at the time of the trade and his arm seemed fine. "He was strong as a bull in resistance testing," Cashman said. 
  • Harper points out that scouts and executives liked the Pineda-Jesus Montero trade for the Yankees back in January.

Michael Pineda To Undergo Labrum Operation

Michael Pineda has a tear in his right labrum and will undergo arthroscopic surgery next Tuesday, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (Twitter link). The 23-year-old will likely miss a full year, MLB.com's Bryan Hoch tweets. The Yankees acquired Pineda in an offseason trade that sent their top hitting prospect to the Mariners, but the right-hander has yet to pitch his first inning in pinstripes.

On paper the Yankees have a relatively deep rotation even without Pineda. Andy Pettitte continues working his way back to the Major Leagues, where he’s expected to join C.C. Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia.

Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports examined the Pineda-Jesus Montero trade earlier today (before this afternoon's news), declaring the Mariners the early winners of the swap. Yankees GM Brian Cashman says Pineda was healthy when the Yankees acquired him in January, Hoch tweets. Pineda, a rookie in 2011, won't be arbitration eligible until the 2013-14 offseason.


Poll: Best Trade Package For A Young Pitcher

When the offseason started, we figured it would be headlined by a pair of MVP caliber bats (Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder) and a Japanese import (Yu Darvish). While those three certainly garnered their fair share of attention, the winter was mostly dominated by trades involving young, high-upside pitchers with multiple years of team control remaining.

The Doug Fister trade seemed to get it all started. The Mariners sent him and David Pauley to the Tigers for Francisco Martinez, Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, and Chance Ruffin at the trade deadline. Four similar young, high-upside starters with multiple years of contractual control remaining were traded this offseason. Here are those deals, presented chronologically…

Each trade involved multiple young players going the other way, including at least one top 100 prospect according to Baseball America. Which team got the best return for their young hurler?


Yankees Notes: Pineda, Ibanez, Willis

The Yankees have averaged more than 97 regular season wins per year since 1996. Here's the latest on the 2012 club via Joel Sherman of the New York Post…

  • Yankees officials say Michael Pineda is a hard worker and his teammates say he’s mixing in well, Sherman reports. There’s been some concern about Pineda’s velocity and conditioning this spring, but Sherman points out that it’s wise to avoid definitive statements based on Spring Training information.
  • The Yankees say they aren’t worried about Raul Ibanez’s spring struggles, Sherman tweets. Ibanez has been facing more left-handed pitching than he will during the regular season.
  • The Yankees offered Dontrelle Willis a minor league deal this offseason, Sherman tweets. The Yankees might look into signing Willis, who was released by the Phillies this morning.

Blue Jays, Mariners Talked Pineda For Lawrie Swap

Alex Anthopoulos hinted last night that some young Blue Jays drew trade interest this offseason, and Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail has the details on some talks that never materialized. The Blue Jays and Mariners discussed Michael Pineda, but the Blue Jays balked when the Mariners wanted Brett Lawrie in return for the right-hander, according to Blair's sources.

Instead, the Yankees obtained Pineda for Jesus Montero last month and the Blue Jays held onto Lawrie. The 22-year-old British Columbia native made his MLB debut in 2011, posting a .293/.373/.580 line in 171 plate appearances. Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik selected Lawrie in the first round of the 2008 draft when he was Milwaukee's scouting director. Meanwhile, Pineda posted a 3.74 ERA with 9.1 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 171 innings as a rookie last year.


Mariners, Yankees Swap Pineda For Montero

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.

Pineda

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.