January 16, 2012 by Matt Musico
With pitchers and catchers set to report in about a month, a majority of Major League Baseball teams are making a flurry of small moves to round out their respective 40-man rosters. However, the Yankees and GM Brian Cashman decided that their unusually quiet off-season came to an end on Friday; the Bronx Bombers solidified their pitching rotation with signing free agent start Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year/$10 million contract, as well as acquiring young Michael Pineda in exchange for Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi.
The 22-year-old starter is the obvious headline of this flurry of moves, giving the Yankees another young pitcher with a world of talent to be inserted into the starting rotation behind their ace, CC Sabathia. In Seattle in 2011, Pineda went 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA in 171 innings pitched, while compiling a 1.1 WHIP…all this being his rookie season. Could pitching at Safeco Field helped him out a little bit? Yes, but this kid has electric stuff…so electric that Cashman was willing to part with their prized offensive prospect in Jesus Montero.
This was a good move for the Mariners as well because it has been harder for them to lure and/or develop offensive talent at Safeco more than pitching talent. After their talks with Prince Fielder broke down, they felt like they needed to inject some sort of offense into their line-up for 2012.
The Yankees weren’t done with acquiring Pineda last week. The winter-long rumors of their interest in Hiroki Kuroda finally culminated with the two sides agreeing on a one year deal last week. Giving the 37 year old starter $10 million in 2012 seems a little steep to me, but New York showed last week that they didn’t have much faith in their rotation. Now, they have a surplus of arms that will lead to plenty of competition in the Spring. With CC leading the staff, Pineda, Ivan Nova, and Kuroda all seem to be looks for the rotation. This gives AJ Burnett, Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia the opportunity to become the fifth starter. These were solid moves for the Yankees. They found short term (Kuroda), and inexpensive (Pineda) ways to secure their largest weak spot from 2011.
I would like to see what New York does with Burnett if he doesn’t win the fifth spot in the rotation; he has two years and $33 million left on his current contract. I have a feeling that the organization would gladly pay a majority of his salary so he could be traded elsewhere. I’m sure all Yankee fans would be ecstatic.
On to the next order of business; what the hell is Prince Fielder still doing on the free agent market? Once Albert Pujols agreed upon his $254 million mega-deal with the Angels, most analysts figured that Prince would find a home pretty soon. However, with all of the big market teams not looking to lock up a first baseman long term, no team wants to spend that kind of money on him. It’s not that he’s not worth the investment, but it seems like it’s just not the right year for Prince.
Scott Boras has been in talks with both the Washington Nationals and now the Texas Rangers about his highly touted client. To even imagine what Prince could do in the middle of the Texas line-up is pretty scary. It was rumored that the Brewers approached Boras about a one-year deal for Fielder, which would allow him to re-enter the free agent market next year to try again for a big deal, and that proposal was immediately rejected. I said a few weeks ago that Fielder might benefit from that type of deal because he will be able re-enter a different type of market next year and he would have a great chance of contending for a title in Milwaukee. However, if the Texas negotiations go anywhere, that could get interesting.
We’re nearing the end of Hot Stove…which means seeing baseball again is that much closer. If only time could move faster.