Yankees and M’s Make a Deal and What it Could Mean for the A’s
The Mariners and Yankees made quite a sizeable move this afternoon with the M’s shipping Michael Pineda and pitching prospect Jose Campos to the Bronx in exchange for C/DH Jesus Montero and pitcher Hector Noesi. The M’s were hoping to bulk up their weak hitting as like the A’s they have struggled at the dish while posting splendid pitching performances insert: Jesus Montero.
Montero, the centerpiece of the deal for Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik, is a 22-year-old backstop who nearly everyone seems to believe cannot really adequately play catcher. He seems destined to be a designated hitter, but hitting is something that comes naturally to him. In his short MLB debut last season he did just that posting a .328/.406/.590 slash line in just 69 plate appearances, with four home runs, a .262 ISO and incredible .421 wOBA and 165 wRC+, clearly playing in the Bronx did not intimidate him at all. In just 18 games he managed 0.6 WAR, which if averaged to a full season turns into a very impressive 5.4 WAR. Montero is a legit hitter and he showed it. He figures to be featured in the heart of the Mariners’ order. Along with Montero came Noesi.
Noesi also made his MLB debut in 2011 pitching 56 1/3 innings mostly out of the bullpen for the Bombers – he did have two starts and was a primarily a starter as he worked his way up the Yankees system to New York. He featured a pedestrian 4.47 ERA with a 4.09 FIP posting 0.3 WAR while managing 7.2 K/9, getting 3.5 BB/9 and allowing 1.0 HR/9. He was victimized by a high .331 BABIP, so one should assume his FIP and xFIP (4.02) are more the level that he pitched. He was consistently being moved in the Yanks’ system never spending more than 98 2/3 innings in any given place (that was Trenton in 2010). Noesi really has been a control guy in the minors (1.7 BB/9 in 377 2/3 innings), but unlike many control guys he features a live mid-90s fastball that averaged 93.3 mph in 2011. It looks like the M’s will try and have him earn a spot in the 2011 rotation, but view him at this point as more of a starter than a bullpen guy so he may wind up with the Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League.
Then there is the matter of what the Mariners gave up. In Michael Pineda they gave up the man that I felt should’ve been the Rookie of the Year this past year. In his debut season he pitched 171 innings of 9.1 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and 1.0 HR/9 baseball that added up to a 3.74 ERA and even better 3.42 FIP and 3.53 xFIP for 3.4 WAR. While he did benefit from a strong BABIP (.258) it was partially offset by a lower than average strand rate (69.7%). He is an extreme fly ball pitcher (44.8%) something that may cause him fits in homer-happy Yankee Stadium. Pineda however has the makings of an ace and though pitchers can be very difficult to project and are always concerns for career altering injuries, he seems better than most and formed a potent 1-2 combo in the Pacific Northwest with Felix Hernandez this past season.
“need[s] to see him at higher levels and his secondary stuff needs refinement, but his upside is very high, he throws hard, and already throws strikes.”
“Campos is just 19 and one NL exec said if he were in this year’s draft he is no-doubt top-10 pick.”
Regardless, he is a player with high-upside in a market obsessed with prospect potential perhaps even more than what a player with a track record possesses at times and he went along with Pineda to New York.
This in a nutshell explains why I think this deal is a coup for New York. Montero may very well be a great hitter, arguably he could be one of the American League’s best and for many years to come at that. But Pineda could very well be one of the league’s best pitchers. While Yankee Stadium likely will prove to hurt Pineda’s numbers to a degree, Montero – though he has opposite field power – will likely have his numbers tempered playing at Safeco Field. If we assume that both Pineda and Montero are equals (which I feel is a big assumption) then trade boils down to the M’s sending a high-ceiling toolsy starting pitcher to the Yankees for an underwhelming middle of the rotation at best starter in Noesi. When comparing the haul that the Mariners got from New York to what the A’s extracted out of Washington for Gio Gonzalez (who was outpitched by Pineda in 2011) it seems laughable that this is all Seattle could muster out of Brian Cashman.
Regardless, I am neither a fan of the Mariners or Yankees so what do I care? What does this mean for Oakland. There had been discussion that the pitching rich Mariners would likely call it an offseason with the signing of Hisashi Iwakuma whom the A’s failed to sign last offseason, but now there is some discussion still that the M’s could go after someone like Roy Oswalt – the Yankees capped their evening by signing Hiroki Kuroda who also was another pitcher rumored to be a possibility in Seattle. Earlier today, Buster Olney of ESPN tweeted,
“The asking prices have come down significantly for veteran FA starters: Oswalt (said to be at $8m), Kuroda (10-11m).”
It seems that New York now is not a likely landing spot for Oswalt as it was the spot for Kuroda. While the M’s could potentially be in the mix for a guy like Oswalt on a one-year – they seem very unlikely to be a match for Prince Fielder with Montero and Justin Smoak filling the first base/designated hitter slots for the M’s – now seems like as good a time as any for the A’s to seriously considering a talent like Oswalt. Unlike how Montero and Pineda seem poor fits for their respective new stadiums, Oswalt would be a very strong fit with the O.co Coliseum (not that there is a pitcher it seems as if it wouldn’t be an idyllic fit for). Oswalt on a one-year would virtually assure himself (should he stay healthy – a big if) a spot on a contender come the end of the year. For Oakland, it means the always strong market for quality starters at the deadline (or not so quality, we are looking at guys like you Erik Bedard who net Seattle Trayvon Robinson) can net them a potential prospect bat or two, and also keeps them on the good side of the MLBPA with any issues of a salary floor.
This is one potential residual of the M’s-Yankees swap that directly benefits the A’s. Oswalt is rapidly looking at few good starting gigs being left open and Oakland could look like a great option.