After an offseason of near silence, the New York Yankees pulled the trigger on a trade today.
While the deal allows both teams to fill a glaring needs, it's hard to not wonder if the Yankees overpaid.
After all, Pineda is a 22-year-old All-Star with seemingly limitless potential. But I can't help but remember that Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes—now a question mark after a disastrous 2010—was a 24-year-old All-Star with seemingly limitless potential this time last year.
Will Montero be a better long-term asset than Pineda? It's impossible to know but, by and large, young bats are typically more durable.
Speaking of Montero's bat, the Yankees now have to make a decision about their lineup. It failed to deliver against the Tigers in the first round of the playoffs last year.
Or will the team let their budget explode even further (more on that in a second) in an effort to bring in Carlos Pena (a former Yankee farmhand) or Johnny Damon?
How about Prince Fielder? Sure, the burly first baseman would require a major commitment, but with the offseason at an end, the Yankees might be able to get a relative discount. At 27, Fielder represents the top ceiling projection of what Montero might have accomplished.
My guess is that Nunez gets 500 at bats or Pena comes aboard on a one-year deal for something like the $10 million base he got last year from the Cubs.
Sure, a Damon reunion would be nice, but at 39 he isn't going to offer the Yankees much more than a replacement-level performance and some warm feelings.
Fielder? Part of me thinks that the Steinbrenner kids share their father's taste for shiny toys. Fielder is the shiniest on the market—just like Rafael Soriano was last year—but a Fielder deal starts at seven or eight years and $20 million plus. It goes up from there.
The Yankees appear to have just made an impulse purchase in the offseason.
Hiroki Kuroda made a world of sense for the Yankees. A 36-year-old ground ball pitcher (unlike Pineda, who is prone to fly balls), Kuroda wasn't seeking a long-term deal. His price had come down as teams like the Red Sox turned to low-cost options like Aaron Cook.
Now, though, the Yankees have a rotation of C.C. Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, Kuroda, and either Freddy Garcia, Hughes, or AJ Burnett. The Yankees are a team of excess, but I can't help but think that the Kuroda deal borders on the reckless.
It will force the team to waste Garcia in the pen, eat a ton of Burnett's salary, or completely give up on Hughes.
The Yankees play to win and they just returned themselves to the top of the heap with today's deals.
Will things work out in the long term?
Hard to say, but while the Yankees staff is one of the best in baseball, their payroll is again higher than they would like. They are forced to rely on an aging offense that let them down when it mattered most last year.