SEATTLE (AP) — Before even playing his first game in Seattle, Jesus Montero is already being touted as the middle-of-the-order answer to the Mariners' offensive woes.
The New York Yankees hope Michael Pineda does the same for their pitching rotation.
The Mariners and Yankees finalized their four-player trade on Monday that sends Pineda, an All-Star in his rookie season, to the Yankees in exchange for Montero, one of the top young slugging prospects in baseball.
Seattle also sent 19-year-old pitching prospect Jose Campos to New York with 24-year-old pitcher Hector Noesi coming back to Seattle. The trade was completed after all players completed physicals with their new teams.
""With this trade we feel we have acquired a premium offensive talent that has the potential to hit in the middle of our lineup and grow with our other young players," Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik said in a statement. "It is also beneficial that we were able to acquire a Major League-ready pitcher with six years of control and who will compete for a spot in our rotation. It was very difficult to part ways with Michael (Pineda) as we are extremely proud of what he has been able to accomplish in our organization. He is a special young man and we wish him the best of luck with the Yankees."
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.
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.
In just 69 plate appearances, Montero hit four homers, drove in 12 runs and batted .328 for New York in a September call-up that earned him a spot on their playoff roster. He showed patience at the plate and an ability to hit with power to the opposite field.
Montero hit .288 with 18 homers and 67 RBIs at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last year. And he finally lands in Seattle after nearly becoming a Mariner in 2010 as part of a deal for Cliff Lee that fell apart at the last minute.
Pineda, who just turned 23, 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.
Noesi split last season between Triple-A and the Yankees. In 30 games with New York, including two starts, he was 2-2 with a 4.47 ERA and 45 strikeouts. He's expected to compete for a job in Seattle's rotation during spring training. Campos was one of the top arms in the Mariners farm system. He pitched at Single-A Everett last year and had 85 strikeouts in just 14 starts.
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