For three and a half months, Brian Cashman refused to budge. He wanted pitching — he made that clear from the very beginning — but he wouldn’t pay top dollar for free agents and he wouldn’t cough up massive prospects in a trade.
So what in the world happened last night?
Yes, it was stunning. And it happened fast. But beyond the shock value of suddenly acquiring two big league starters and losing the team’s top hitting prospect in the process, I’m not entirely sure last night’s flurry of activity signaled a philosophical shift within the Yankees organization.
Consider the two moves…
The key to the kingdom
A four-player deal for Michael Pineda
Cashman has always said that pitching is the key. His “key to the kingdom” line is practically a catchphrase, and last night he swapped young hitting for young pitching. True, the hitter he gave up was believed to be nearly untouchable, but Jesus Montero was never completely untouchable, and we knew that. We’d known it ever since the last time Cashman tried to trade for a Mariners starter.
Last night, the Yankees gave up a 22-year-old slugger who might or might not be able to play the field effectively, for a 22-year-old starter who had a 3.74 ERA last season and is still under team control for another five years. Yes, Hector Noesi and Jose Campos are legitimate prospects, but this deal clearly centered on swapping a young, cheap, talented hitter for a young, cheap, talented pitcher.
A one-year deal with Hiroki Kuroda
Kuroda is about to turn 37 years old and he’s never pitched outside of the National League West. Even coming off his best year, Kuroda’s no sure thing. And at $10 million, he no cheap thing either. But what’s the worst-case scenario here? One bad year?
C.J. Wilson signed for five years. Mark Buehrle signed for four. Edwin Jackson was believed to seeking a multi-year deal. The risk with Kuroda is contained. Here and now, he helps turn the Yankees rotation from a thin question mark to an overflowing strength. In the future he… does nothing. Maybe he keeps the Yankees from pushing a young guy into the rotation right away, but ultimately, his impact — for better and for worse — is limited to this season. The short-term cost is high, but still lower than Kuroda was reportedly seeking early this offseason.
Associated Press photo