Yankees Finally Start Their Offseason

Quiet offseason ends with two big moves in one day

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Pineda was the biggest part of the Yankees' Friday Night Surprise.

    There aren't many times when you look at or think about Brian Cashman and then find that Michael Corleone has come to mind.

    But that was the first thing that popped into the head on Friday night when the double whammy of Yankees moves hit the wire. The Yankees traded the highly touted Jesus Montero, whose bat was expected to be a big part of the lineup in 2012, to Seattle for 22-year-old pitcher Michael Pineda, who struck out 173 hitters in 171 innings as a rookie last year.

    Then came word that the Yankees had signed Hiroki Kuroda, another starting pitcher, to a one-year, $10 million contract to further stock a rotation that had many people concerned. Now it had two new members in good standing to team with CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova in an attempt to remain at the top of the pecking order in the American League.

    Everything about the Yankees offseason changed on Friday night and the only thing missing was Cashman standing outside a car with Carlo Rizzi while explaining to him that today was the day they settled all family business. It was quick, it was clean, and most impressive of all, it was stealth.

    Working for the most visible franchise in the sport while in the biggest media market in the country, Cashman was able to keep any whisper of what was about to go down out of public discussion. Kuroda was mentioned, always with the caveat that he would be too expensive, but the idea of a deal for Pineda never came up anywhere before the hammer dropped out of the blue. 

    The Pineda-Montero trade is the kind that you rarely see in baseball anymore, a true challenge trade made based on the talents of the players instead of any attempt to shift salary, and that makes it particularly interesting. Montero's bat can certainly play in the big leagues -- we saw that this year -- but this deal makes it clear that the Yankees have serious doubts about his ability to be an everyday catcher.

    You'd rather have a good starting pitcher than a great designated hitter, simply because it is always easier to find hitting than pitching on the market. If Montero turns into the next Edgar Martinez, you'll hear some griping, but Pineda fills a huge need.

    He's not a sure thing. No young pitcher is a sure thing and the shift from Safeco Field to Yankee Stadium certainly isn't one that works in the favor of pitchers, but Pineda achieved at a very high level at a young age and he has the kind of arm that you can project as part of the rotation through the rest of the decade if all goes well.

    Kuroda is making an even tougher switch as he moves from the National League and Dodger Stadium, but his track record and price make him look awfully good. Kuroda was thought to want $13 million and the Yankees landed him for less, helping the team now while also keeping them financially flexible enough to help the rotation again in years to come and/or avoiding massive luxury tax bills down the road.

    And, on top of all that, the Yankees also landed another strong young arm for the system in 19-year-old Jose Campos while sending Hector Noesi to Seattle. Noesi was a depth arm with Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances rising through the system while reports on Campos are that he could develop into an elite arm.

    If he does, the Yankees will look even smarter. At the least, though, he's another piece to use going forward that probably will have more value than Noesi would provide to the organization.

    That all adds up to a pretty good sounding trade, something that you can be sure isn't just the opinion of those inside the Yankee family. You need only look at the amount of snark offered by Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine when he was asked about the deal to see that the chief Yankee rivals feel like they are dealing with a better team right now than they were last week.

    Family business has been taken care of and it has left the Yankees' place at the top of the American League more secure than ever. Not bad for a quiet offseason.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.