Jesus Montero: The Other Side of the Michael Pineda Trade

If the New York Yankees got a lemon in Michael Pineda (and not everyone agrees they did), what did the Seattle Mariners get?  They got Jesus Montero.  They got a bat that was highly-touted in the Yankees' system.  But they got a righty.  And in Safeco, that's essentially a death sentence.  However, the Mariners feel Montero will develop and with the soon-to-be altered dimensions, right field may not be such a killer.

First, let's start with Pineda.  Seattle did not want to part with him.  They had high hopes for the young righty.  In 2011, Pineda went 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA.  In the American League, as a rookie, 3.74 is fantastic.  It's understandable why Mariners fans were sad to see him go.  In the minors, he went 31-14 with a 2.49 ERA.  He struck out 8.8 batters per nine innings, and he walked just 2.1 batters per nine innings.  So the Mariners had their second best guy lined up.  A 1b to Felix Hernandez's 1a.  But Seattle needed a bat.

So they traded Pineda for another prospect.  Jesus Montero came over from New York and immediately played in 135 games.  Pineda, though, didn't play a game for New York.  Shortly after the trade, it was determined that Pineda had a shoulder injury.  He missed all of 2012, and he may miss all of the 2013 season.  Call it a bad trade.  Call him a lemon.  No matter what label is placed on Pineda, the fact is, Seattle got the better end of this deal no matter what level of production they see out of Montero.  And they did not see much in 2012.

Montero hit .260/.298/.386 with 15 home runs for the Mariners.  Of course, the dimensions of Safeco surely played a role.  The Mariners actually finished with a better record at home than on the road despite the offense-stifling dimensions, but some of their hitters suffered.  Montero was one of them.

Montero is due for a bounce back season next year.  He was adjusting to a completely different home ball park - one that was on the complete opposite end of the spectrum from Yankee Stadium.  His production in 2013 will be better than Pineda's no matter what if Pineda doesn't play.  However, in the long run, who will get the most value from this trade?

Montero has a great deal of upside and is not coming off an injury.  Pineda had upside, could still have upside, and has already shown a great deal of talent.  However, this shoulder injury is such that his future is unknown.  He could eventually return and pitch up to expectations, but any time someone misses two full seasons, the long-term concerns are there.  The Montero/Pineda is one of the more interesting trades in recent years.  It is one that will be worth following for the next few years.

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