Michael Pineda traded for Jesus Montero

Jesus Montero knows how to swing that wooden thing in his hand, hopefully he doesn't forget to bring his bat to Seattle.

Yesterday the Mariners traded Michael Pineda and Jose Campos to the Yankees for Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi.

It’s always hard to see the team trade away one of their top players, especially a guy like Pineda who had become a fan favorite in his one year in Seattle. So I get how people aren’t happy about this trade. I bet if this trade had happened the other way around that it would be equally panned.

And when we it happens juxtaposed with the Mat Latos trade, which was a huge coup for the Padres, it is a lot harder to watch. The Padres got more for Latos, and Latos is an inferior pitcher who should have had less value than Pineda. However, of all the players traded this offseason, Jesus Montero is the best prospect.

A lot of times we get caught up in the idea of trading WAR for WAR. But what we neglect sometimes, is the value of plate appearances, and their fleeting nature. The problem with adding three two-win players instead of one six-win player is that those three players tie up three positions. So now, instead of using roughly 700 plate appearances to generate six wins, the team is using about 2100.

Hitters who have the potential to post seasons of 50 runs above replacement or greater at the plate are hard to find. Guys that can post 20 runs above replacement are much easier to find. And the closer to that elite level of production a player gets, the closer their pay gets to market value.

But for Seattle, cultivating and acquiring players who can pitch about three-and-a-half wins—which Pineda did last year—or better, is much easier than doing than finding offensive players of equal value. We’ve seen with the Mariners signings of Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson that their park’s dampening effects on offensive value force them to pay a premium for premier power hitters. The opposite effect has been had on pitchers functionally, though it may not have yet manifested itself into discounted pitcher signings.

Even harder is finding catchers with solid offensive value. I don’t think Montero will be a career-catcher, but if the Mariners believe that he’s only going to be here for his pre-free agency years it probably isn’t that important to them what his knees look like on the physical he takes with his next team. If they do care they will likely move him off the position much sooner, much like the Nationals did with Bryce Harper, and what the Twins may have to do with Joe Mauer.

But if we look at the kinds of resources this personnel team has a lot of (young pitching) and the kind of resources they are lacking in (offensive talent, money) this was certainly a more efficient use of resources than signing Prince Fielder to a contract with an annual salary that accounts for 30 percent of the payroll.

The Mariners may not have gotten as good a value for Pineda as the Padres got for Latos, but they were able to exercise some leverage in a trade like this. Their leverage was their ability to trade a top pitcher without expecting a huge drop off, while adding a player who can contribute in an area of weakness that they have. They have no leverage in a Fielder signing. In fact, they’d probably have to pay a significant premium for Fielder.

This definitely adds some expectation that the Mariners declaration that they’d let Danny Hultzen, James Paxton, and Taijuan Walker compete for a spot in the rotation during spring is genuine. It sure was when the team said the same about Pineda last year.

Do you like the Michael Pineda for Jesus Montero trade for the Mariners?

  • Yes (83%, 20 Votes)
  • No (17%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 24

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  • Anonymous

    Can’t disagree with the fact that signing free agent sluggers is the most expensive way to better the M’s, there is plenty of evidence for that and it is recognized throughout the game. Z’s process of signing good arms and trading them for good bats is the best approach I can think of and the fact that he is able to identify them makes it the way to go. I still remembering thinking who the hell is Taijuan Walker when they made him their first pick in the 2010 amateur draft. I also wasn’t hot on them finally coughing up the bucks needed to get K-Pax signed. Obviously I’m no talent scout but Z has some good ones and he has some good baseball minds on staff to back him up. Having maybe the best catching teacher in the game won’t hurt Montero’s development in that position. I’m wondering if they should move Smoak to third base or is a left-handed throwing player not suited there? I think he could make that transition better than Montero and would open first base for Montero.

    • Anonymous

      Definitely can’t move Smoak to 3rd for the reason you said. I think that Montero is going to cause some positional issues for the Mariners. Of the three catchers on the roster he’s almost unarguably the worst defensively (and Jaso and Olivo aren’t wizards), but he also figures to be the best offensively. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets 600 PAs next year, but I think he will get them at C, 1B, and DH

      • Anonymous

        I agree, he’s got to get the PAs one way or another. I have hoped they don’t sign Fielder since the idea was first broached because of the albatross factor. Now he would bump another decent bat out of the lineup, which doesn’t make sense to me and I don’t think Z will go that route. I think the best chance for 3B will be Seagar, his progress has me quietly impressive and he’s not at his full potential yet. If Catricala forces his way on the roster in spring training or later in the season they might try him at 3rd but he probably will spend the season in Tacoma. I’m not high on Liddi’s chances but who knows. That’s what makes spring training so much fun.

      • Anonymous

        Pretty much every review of Catricala’s defense has him moving to 1B/DH. That spot just got a lot tougher to win. If he can play left (and that’s me presenting an enormous if) then he’s probably got a spot on the MLB roster eventually, but for now he’s got less of a position than Montero.