Hiroki Kuroda and Michael Pineda To Don Pinstripes

It appears that Yankee GM, Brian Cashman, was just taking his time. Yankee fans watched the Angels sign Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson. They watched Mark Buehrle sign with the revamped Miami Marlins and the Rangers win exclusive rights to negotiate with Japanese pitcher, Yu Darvish. Rumors surfaced that the Yankees would add Jair Jurrjens to their shaky, pinstriped rotation in exchange for young shortstop Eduardo Nunez, but nothing came to fruition.

After resigning to the fact that the Yankees may not make a major move this off-season, Yankee fans were hit with two huge moves that may transform a lousy rotation into a deep, World Series caliber group. One that could even be called the strength of the team.

After months of hearing that Hiroki Kuroda was uncomfortable moving to New York and would either remain in Los Angeles or head back to his native Japan, the AP has reported that the two parties have struck a 1-year, $10 million pact. Kuroda is 36 years of age, but his age is not a concern to me and evidently not too big of a concern to Brian Cashman. Last season Kuroda posted MLB career bests in wins, innings pitched, strikeouts, and ERA–finishing the year with 13 wins, 202 IP, 161 Ks, and a 3.07 ERA. Barring unforeseen injury I don’t think a 17 win, 3.60 ERA season is an unreasonable expectation.

In the same day that Yankee fans heard Kuroda would don pinstripes, they also learned that star prospect, Jesus Montero, was traded. The reaction went something like this, “Oh no, they gave away another star prospect. We always do this! This is terrible… Wow, we got Michael Pineda. Hmmm, he’s pretty young, huh (22)? Wow, with Kuroda AND Pineda our rotation is pretty good now. I think I like this deal. Wow, we may win the World Series!”

Moving catcher Jesus Montero stings, but I’m not totally heart-broken for a few reasons. First, The Yankees already re-signed Russell Martin, meaning Montero wouldn’t have played much behind the plate this year. It also hinted at the possibility that the Yankees didn’t feel comfortable with Montero’s defense behind the plate. He’s much less impressive as a DH prospect than a catching prospect.
Second, the Yankees are loaded with good catching prospects. Austin Romine is lauded as a well-rounded catching prospect that can hit (although not as well as Montero) and field. The younger Gary Sanchez gives the Yankees minor league depth at the catcher position, as a top 30 overall prospect according to Baseball America. Trading from a position of depth (likely the most minor league catching depth in baseball) to solve an immediate problem without getting older makes sense.
Prior to Transactions
  1. CC Sabathia
  2. Ivan Nova
  3. Freddy Garcia
  4. Phil Hughes
  5. AJ Burnett
After Transactions
  1. CC Sabathia
  2. Michael Pineda
  3. Hiroki Kuroda
  4. Ivan Nova
  5. Garcia/Hughes

With Posada retiring and Montero now on his way to the Pacific Northwest, the Yankees may have created a hole at the DH slot. This may have been intentional though, as they now can give Eduardo Nunez plenty of playing time on the left side of the infield while keeping Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter well rested. The rotation looks fantastic, with two potentially dominant pitchers at the top of the rotation and an incredible amount of depth. The Yankees still need to add a lefty in the bullpen to help Boone Logan, but suddenly baseball season can’t start soon enough. The Mariners and Yankees, after failing to consummate a Cliff Lee deal, reunited to strike a seemingly win-win trade. The Evil Empire is back.

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5 thoughts on “Hiroki Kuroda and Michael Pineda To Don Pinstripes

  1. It’s a solid and sensible move. I’m happy with the look of the rotation now. The only thing that mildly concerns me is that our batting order is pretty old for the most part, and we don’t have too many young stud hitting prospects. We need to make some moves to get younger offensive guys. But solidifying the rotation was huge.

  2. I don’t know if it’s quite the “Evil Empire”. That term was coined because of the Yankees immense financial advantages, particularly their high bid for Jose Contreras.

    These moves smack more of baseball savvy rather than financial firepower.

  3. You’re absolutely right. I mean, we did give Kuroda $10 million, but since it’s a one year deal I think that’s something a lot of teams could have done. When he leaves, Banuelos or Betances will slot into his spot with the other taking Garcia’s spot. I love our rotation and am very impressed with Brian Cashman.

  4. I get why they did the trade and I think it’s a pretty sound move, but I’m just a little concerned that we have very few good young bats in our lineup right now and who can come up from the minors to the big club in the future. Our lineup is very old. Besides Cano, we have Jeter (old), A-Rod (old), Tex (somewhat old and declining rapidly), and Martin (physically old). Grandy is in his prime but not for much longer. Same with Swish. Gardner is still pretty young but he’s more of a spark plug and not a leading guy.

    In the end, though, I suppose that bolstering our rotation the way we did is worth losing one big bat, especially if he was just going to be a DH. I think this trade is a win-win for the Yanks and Mariners.

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