Despite being ousted in the ALDS last season, the New York Yankees seemed rather stagnant in a relatively slow offseason.
But on Friday night, Brian Cashman and the rest of the Yankees front office struck for two big deals.
The first move came when the Yankees traded Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi to the Seattle Mariners for pitchers Michael Pineda and Jose Campos. Shortly after, the Yanks inked veteran starter Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year, $10 million deal.
Only time will tell if these moves were the right ones. But if one thing's for sure it's that these moves have created some winners and losers for the upcoming season.
One of the reasons why the Yankees were able to pull the trigger on this Pineda-Montero trade was the fact that they have Austin Romine. Romine, 23, is currently the team's best catching prospect in light of the Montero departure.
Although Montero was the team's top young talent, Romine wasn't too far behind. Montero did swing a better bat than Romine and looked as if he was the next Miguel Cabrera after his late-season call-up in 2011.
Romine, however, is much more advanced on the defensive end.
He has a rocket of an arm and often exhibits great footwork behind the plate. Romine isn't too shabby on offense either. During his 2011 campaign in Trenton, he hit a very respectable .286 with six homers and 47 RBI in 85 games.
Romine possesses a much more well-rounded game than Montero.
With Montero now gone, Romine will certainly become the team's backstop within the next season or so.
Sorry, A.J. Burnett, but this is the news Yankees fans have been waiting for.
Now that Brian Cashman has brought in both Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda, there is no longer room for the erratic righty. Burnett is clearly the odd man out in a pitching rotation that boasts a total of seven options.
Last season in the Bronx, Burnett was nothing short of useless. He was 11-11 with a 5.15 ERA in 32 starts. Opposing batters lit him up for 190 hits in 190.1 innings, 31 homers in 33 appearances and a .260 average. This, coming off his 2010 campaign where he posted a horrific 5.26 ERA with 15 losses.
So with Burnett as the least favorable option in a now-crowded rotation, what will happen to him?
Joe Girardi will not find a spot for him. So how will Brian Cashman get rid of him?
Would you want an ineffective 35-year-old who is owed $33 million in the next two seasons? Yeah, me neither.
But whatever the team does with Burnett, it might be safe to say he won't factor in the Yankees' 2012 season.
As a young up-and-comer, there is no better stage on which to be showcased than the Bronx. Luckily for Jesus Montero, he found this out after his call-up in 2011.
In 18 games, Montero hit at an outstanding .328 clip with four homers and 12 RBI. Simply put, the organization's top prospect put the baseball world on notice.
But does his move to Seattle now spell trouble for the hitting phenom? Nope.
As a Mariner, Montero is almost assured a starting spot for the upcoming 2012 season. Whether it be as a catcher, a first baseman or a designated hitter, Montero should and will be an everyday guy for Eric Wedge's ball club.
Had the Yankees not traded Montero and kept him on the major league roster, he wouldn't be seeing nearly as much playing time. First baseman Mark Teixeira and catcher Russell Martin obviously have their positions locked up, leaving only the occasional DH role for Montero.
And even as the designated hitter, Montero wouldn't be a daily fixture in the lineup. Aging stars Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez would need to be slotted into that spot every seven days or so.
With Seattle, however, Montero will be able to put his skills on display more than he would have in New York this season.
The Yankees' biggest problem on Friday morning was their lack of depth in the pitching rotation. But after their trade for Pineda and signing of Kuroda, it is now one of their biggest strengths.
Unfortunately, Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia will now have to battle for the fifth spot in that rotation.
Joe Girardi could opt to go with a six-man rotation as he did for much of last season. That, however, seems a bit unlikely given their drastic upgrades as far as the quality of their starters goes.
It would not be a good move to have CC Sabathia pitch every five days rather than every four. The same goes with Ivan Nova, Pineda and Kuroda.
As of now, the most likely situation would see Garcia as the fifth starter and Hughes as the team's long-man out of the bullpen.
Either way, these two went from guaranteed starters to a full-out dogfight for the last spot in the Yanks' rotation.
With Montero out and Pineda and Kuroda in, Yankees manager Joe Girardi will have a much easier go at penciling in his roster.
As far as Montero goes, Girardi will now have the DH spot open for his aging players. He can now give half-days to older players such as Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, instead of reserving it for Montero.
The Yankees need Jeter and Rodriguez to produce in order to compete for a championship, so giving them a day off every six or seven games will be an easy decision for Girardi.
The pitching rotation has also become a much clearer picture for the Yankees manager.
Prior to the deals, the Yanks had an incredibly choppy bottom half of the rotation that included Phil Hughes, Freddy Garcia and A.J. Burnett. Now, Girardi has a very solid front four with CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova and Hiroki Kuroda.
The only choice to make now is Hughes or Garcia. Girardi does not have to work with a weak rotation or decide to bring up younger guys such as Manny Banuelos or Delin Betances.
Before making these two deals on Friday, Edwin Jackson and Roy Oswalt were a few names floating around the organization.
This, however, is just an afterthought. There is clearly no room for either of these two. And even worse, the front office was not exactly high on either Jackson or Oswalt before Friday night.
This pair of free-agent starters will now have a bit more looking to do.
Jackson, 28, is coming off a good season with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago White Sox. He posted a respectable 3.79 ERA with 12 wins in 199.2 innings of work. His asking price, however, may be much too high for a number of playoff contenders.
Oswalt is a very viable pitching option as well.
He easily has been one of baseball's best pitchers over the last decade or so and would provide a playoff team with a legitimate veteran presence. But just as with Jackson, his asking price could also be blocking his path to a good team. In addition, Oswalt's back problems are another concern for potential suitors.
It now seems likely the two may have to take a considerably lower contract elsewhere or agree to terms with a non-playoff team, a harsh reality for the ringless Oswalt.
The Yankees have emerged as big winners as a result of these two moves.
They added an electric young arm in Michael Pineda and a fairly reliable veteran In Hiroki Kuroda. No longer do the Yankees have a foggy rotation. Their starting pitching has gone from a huge liability to a considerable strength.
For those Yankees fans concerned about the loss of Jesus Montero, don't be.
Sure, the Yankees lost a surefire hitting prospect in Montero. But they did fix a problem that's been plaguing them for some time now. With the inclusion of Pineda, the team now has a high-end No. 3 starter that could become a very legitimate No. 2.
Pineda had a very impressive 2011 and earned himself an All-Star appearance in his rookie season. He pitched for a 9-10 record and a 3.74 ERA. The Mariners' phenom also posted a bulky 173 strikeouts in just 171.0 innings of work.
The deal with Seattle also had a very positive indirect effect on the future of the Yankees organization.
Brian Cashman was able to bring over a great pitching talent in Pineda without relinquishing Manny Banuelos or Delin Betances. This allows the Yankees to keep two future starters that have a very high ceiling.
It also saves them two very high-end trading pieces that could eventually be turned over for a superstar-type pitcher. If Felix Hernandez or Tim Lincecum magically become available, Banuelos and Betances would be very instrumental in a potential deal.
Just as the Yankees did, the Seattle Mariners used their depth at one spot to fix their weakness in another. Bringing in Jesus Montero gives the Mariners some much-needed offense in a much-needed position.
In 2011, the Mariners ranked just about last in every major offensive statistic. They finished 30th in runs scored, 30th in batting average, 29th in RBI and 25th in home runs.
Montero will not immediately fix those problems, but is an incredible step forward for the most offensively inept team in recent memory.