The New York Yankees just had to have their hands on the Mariners' Felix Hernandez. But knowing that Jack Zduriencik and the Mariners held a vice grip on King Felix, the Yankees settled for consolation prize Michael Pineda.
On Friday evening, it was reported that a deal between the Mariners and Yankees had been reached in which the M's would trade Pineda and pitcher Jose Campos for prospects Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi.
Call this a bittersweet moment for M's fans, because an enjoyable year of the deadly duo—King Felix and "Prince" Pineda—will have no encore as Pineda heads to the Bronx. Simply put, the 22-year-old Pineda was brilliant early on in his rookie season, ending the year with an admirable 3.72 ERA with 173 strikeouts in 171 innings pitched.
The Yankees, looking for star pitching, obviously felt that Pineda would add the missing piece to their star-studded team. And for the young Pineda, it's in front of America's biggest stage that he will now call his home.
But for the Mariners, the premium price on an up-and-coming ace pitcher was met with catcher/ designated hitter Jesus Montero, widely regarded as the best hitting prospect in all of baseball.
Although he's hardly a sure bet to achieve stardom in the major leagues, Montero showed his potential in an 18-game stint with the Yankees. Hitting for a .328 average, he also hit four home runs with 12 RBI.
In a mostly-quiet offseason for the Seattle Mariners, when you could hear the crickets chirping sometimes, this monumental deal signifies GM Jack Zduriencik's commitment to revamp one of the worst offenses in baseball history.
Not only will Montero provide an immediate answer at designated hitter, but his ability to play catcher means that he may even fill a long-term hole at catcher, a position the M's have struggled to address for the past several years. Montero even allows for more roster flexibility as a backup catcher.
So while the M's will wave goodbye to the sensational Pineda, they welcome a hitter who may resurrect the anemic offense and bring playoff hopes to the Mariners in the future. A budding arsenal of young offensive studs in Dustin Ackley, Mike Carp, Justin Smoak, Casper Wells and Jesus Montero offers a chance to build a powerhouse that Seattle has not seen for over a decade.
And it's not like their pitching staff will suffer all that much in the long term, as crazy as it sounds. King Felix will always be there, and behind him the steady Jason Vargas and newly-imported Hisashi Iwakuma. After that, the Mariners boast some of the best pitching prospects in baseball with Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton.
In all, our judgement was that the Mariners were a long shot to land Prince Fielder, and this trade pretty much seals the deal. The M's are no longer willing to pay the price tag Fielder carries, as their DH spot is addressed for the time being.
But for now, the Mariners walk away with a shiny new toy, a 22-year-old slugger who can add legitimacy to the offense and playoff potential to the team.
Call me crazy, but after this victory of a trade, the Mariners could very well find themselves with one of the best offenses in the AL in 2012.