In separate conference calls, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik told basically the same story of how the Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda trade came about.
It started early last month at the Winter Meetings in Dallas. The Mariners had nearly traded for Montero a year and a half earlier, and Zduriencik wanted to revisit the possibility.
“We had a brief conversation,” Cashman said. “Jack had mentioned to me, if there was anybody other than Felix Hernandez that you would consider in a Montero discussion. I said, ‘Really, one guy.’ And then we kind of focused from there… (I said) but I’m not sure if I would even do that, and he said he wasn’t sure if he would do it, and so we just kind of talked through it a long period of time.
“… We agreed a little bit on the principles, but he told me he needed more for Michael, and I felt that (if I gave up) too much more, I needed something back, so that’s how the various other players got in play.”
Zduriencik said he didn’t exactly make Pineda available, he really went in pursuit of a player he wanted and found out that Pineda would be the cost.
“We identified some young players throughout baseball,” Zduriencik said. “But at the end we settled on Jesus… We had a need, and we are trying to address that need. To get really good players, you have to give up really good players. Neither one of us were trying to walk away from this thinking, I got the upper hand.”
Some other notes from today’s conference calls with the Yankees and Mariners.
• Big words from Cashman on what it felt like to trade Montero: “There have been only two moves I was willing to this for, and it happened to be with the same organization with Seattle. It’s hard. It’s very hard. He may very well be the best player I’ve ever traded.”
• Cashman on concerns about Pineda’s second half: “I more asked about how they used him at the very end, and the answers that came back made sense. Obviously given the fact that we’ve been a part of limiting somebody’s innings as well, or limiting our players innings and making sure they’re protected and things of that nature. His first-half and second-half numbers are a little deceiving. I took comfort in the fact that his strikeouts-per-nine in the first half of last year were 9.0, but they went up in the second half to 9.3. His walks-per-nine were 2.8 in the first half and 2.9 in the second half, so they were relatively the same.”
• Cashman refused to speculate on who would round out his rotation next season, but he dismissed the notion that Phil Hughes — because of his past bullpen success — is an obvious candidate to be bumped out of the rotation. “I think he’s a starter,” Cashman said. “I know he can pitch out of the pen, but I don’t look at him as a reliever. Never have. I know with any quality arm, whether it’s CC or A.J. or Nova or Hughes or now Pineda, you can run them out there into the pen and they’d look pretty special. But it’s not something you want to do.”
• Cashman said he was “not at all” hesitant to deal with Seattle after the previous failed attempt to make a Montero trade with the Mariners.
• Cashman also said this trade was “need for need” rather than any sort of Yankees organizational philosophy about valuing pitching ahead of hitting.
• Montero said he was “shocked” by the trade because he was convinced the Yankees were about give him his shot in the big leagues, but he also had previous prepared himself to play in Seattle, so the transition was fairly easy. He said his family is happy about the trade because they view it as a new opportunity.
• Asked about being a catcher, Montero said, “That’s why I’m here.” Zduriencik said Montero will get “every opportunity” to become the team’s everyday catcher.
• Zduriencik also made it clear that he expects to have Noesi in the big leagues this season.
• Finally, Montero gave Alex Rodriguez a lot of credit for his improvement as a hitter. Montero said that, when Rodriguez found out he wasn’t going to the cage every day, Rodriguez said he would fine Montero $100 for every day he didn’t do extra cage work. Montero started going every day.
Associated Press photos