One year ago Sunday, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman consummated a trade many around baseball thought to be a no-brainer. With the Yankees at the time having All-Star catcher Russell Martin and having strong belief in the development of young Austin Romine, Cashman dealt catcher and right-handed Jesus Montero as the key piece in a trade that brought Seattle Mariners phenom Michael Pineda to the Bronx. A year later, Pineda has yet to step on the mound at Yankee Stadium, Martin is now a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and Romine likely will start the year in Triple A coming off of significant time missed in 2012 due to a recurring back injury.
At the time, experts such as ESPN.com senior writer Jayson Stark lauded the move to snag Pineda,
“Yeah, it's true Pineda faded in the second half, winning only once in 10 starts and sputtering to a 5.12 ERA. And it's also true he struggled against the AL East (4.73 ERA). But he's the kind of pitcher who almost never gets traded these days — and the Yankees found a way to trade for him, anyway.”
As a rookie in 2011, the right-handed phenom ranked among the league's best in velocity with a fastball that hovered around 95 miles per hour. Additionally, he finished among the top-three in strikeout percentage and was selected to the All-Star Game. As pointed out previously by Stark, Pineda would fade in the second half of his rookie season, however was still viewed as one of the top rookies in the game, good enough to finish fifth in American League Rookie of the Year voting.
Fast forward to 2012 and while the other side of the deal, Montero, became a full-season contributor splitting his starts between catcher and designated hitter for the Mariners (albeit not putting up eye-opening numbers), Pineda never ended up throwing a regular-season pitch at any level of the organization.
An eye-opening lack of velocity during spring training would lead to the discovery of tendonitis in his throwing shoulder and Pineda would start the 2012 season on the disabled list. During rehabilitation from the tendonitis, problems would compound for Pineda as he would suffer a labrum tear, effectively ending his first season as a Yankee before it ever really started. In addition, and as ESPN New York senior writer Andrew Marchand points out, he also entered camp last season overweight and would be arrested for a DUI in August down in Tampa, where he remained to rehabilitate from arthroscopic surgery on said shoulder. Needless to say, Pineda has yet to truly acclimate himself.
In regards to 2013, Pineda has begun long-tossing and is expected to make his long-awaited debut at some point in the middle of the season. However, one can only speculate if he will ever regain his rookie form. In short, will this trade ever pan out?
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