There was an audible gasp when the Seattle Mariners traded away pitcher Michael Pineda at the beginning of 2012. After all, Pineda was regarded as a top pitching prospect and he was dominant in the first two months of his rookie season.
In addition, there was a concern that dealing with the New York Yankees was not a good decision as few fans wanted to see their budding star go to the Bronx Bombers.
After going 6-2 with a 2.42 ERA in April and May, Seattle watched the youngster finish the 2011 season at 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA. Still a great year for a rookie, but it did raise some questions about the long-term potential of the big right-hander.
Despite the fact that Pineda declined in the second half of his rookie season, New York was still willing to part with their best hitting prospect to get him. The general reaction to the trade was that everyone would need to wait and see how each player developed.
How do you suppose people are grading this trade today?
Almost a year later, the Mariners are the clear winner in this deal, but only because Pineda has yet to take the mound for the Yankees.
Now it appears that he could be out until June of 2013. At this point, Mariners fans have to be happy with how this trade turned out. For New York, this has turned into a nightmare.
Granted, Jesus Montero did not exactly hit the cover off the ball this year, but for the Mariners, a .260 batting average with 15 home runs and 62 runs knocked in is a pretty good start. In addition, Montero played in unfriendly Safeco Field.
Perhaps Montero will grow in confidence next year when the fences are moved in. If he turns into a .300 hitter, Yankee fans will really shake their heads and wonder if this trade should have been made.
If Pineda comes back in 2013 and regains his former dominance, things may start to level out. However, at the moment, this deal completely favors the Mariners.
This type of transaction illustrates why the GM position in Major League Baseball can be such a tough job. You have to assume that if New York could have seen the future, they would have never made this deal. And yet, here we are.
Is this the formula for Seattle to improve their lineup over the next couple of years? Conventional wisdom suggest that you do not trade away hot pitching talent, but the Seattle offense finished last in the league (again) in most major categories.
Simply put, the M's need some better bats. They can be patient with the youngsters, risk big dollars in a thin free-agent market or make some trades.
As nice as it would be to see Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker solidify the Seattle rotation for the next decade, might it be wise to trade one or two of them for a quality hitter?
The Pineda-Montero trade brought a potential star to the lineup. It might be time to try this strategy again.