Yankees, Mariners agree to Jesus Montero-for-Michael Pineda swap

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UPDATE: Greg Johns of MLB.com was told by a team source that the Mariners are sending Michael Pineda and 19-year-old right-hander Jose Campos to the Yankees for Jesus Montero and right-hander Hector Noesi.

It’s easy to say the Mariners should have just signed Prince Fielder and kept Pineda, but perhaps this was an acknowledgement that it was never a realistic possibility. Safeco Field is one of the worst stadiums in baseball for right-handed hitters, but the 22-year-old Montero at least has power to the opposite field. He will presumably be the primary designated hitter in Seattle, though it’s possible they could try him behind the plate.

Pineda, who turns 23 next Wednesday, posted a 3.74 ERA and 173/55 K/BB ratio over 171 innings as a rookie with the Mariners last season. This included a 2.92 ERA at home and a 4.40 ERA on the road. Still, the Yankees now have yet another cheap, young pitcher with upside to put behind ace CC Sabathia for the next few years. Campos, who had a 2.32 ERA and 85/13 K/BB ratio over 81 1/3 innings at Low-A last season, is yet another option down the road.

Montero was projected to the Yankees’ designated hitter this season, so it will be interesting to see where Brian Cashman turns in the next few days. With Alex Rodriguez likely to need more DH time over the next few years, do they go for a short-term solution like Johnny Damon or Carlos Pena? Or do they intensify their pursuit for Yoenis Cespedes or perhaps even make a play Prince Fielder? Interesting times.

7:42 PM: According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Mariners have indeed acquired Jesus Montero from the Yankees for Michael Pineda. He adds that there are additional players in the deal. Wow.

7:30 PM: Here’s a juicy one.

According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, the Mariners are moving closer to a trade  for a “young impact hitter.” No word on who they might be talking to, but Crasnick was told that it’s a “significant trade” and that closer Brandon League is not going in the other direction.

Nothing confirmed here, but Larry Stone of the Seattle Times is hearing rumblings that the Mariners could be sending young right-hander Michael Pineda to the Yankees for Jesus Montero.

That would be a doozy. Stay tuned.

Jim Crane thought the heat over sign-stealing would blow over by spring training

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The Astros’ sign-stealing story broke in November, a steady drumbeat of coverage of it lasted through December and into January, when Rob Manfred’s report came out about it. The report was damning and, in its wake, Houston’s manager and general manger were both suspended and then fired.

After that a steady stream of media reports came out which not only made the whole affair seem even worse than Manfred’s report suggested, but which also suggested that, on some level, Major League Baseball had bungled it all and it was even worse than it had first seemed.

Rather than Manfred and the Astros putting this all behind them, the story grew. As it grew, both the Red Sox and Mets fired their managers and, in a few isolated media appearances, Astros’ players seemed ill-prepared for questions on it all. Once spring training began the Astros made even worse public appearances and, for the past week and change, each day has given us a new player or three angrily speaking out about how mad they are at the Astros and how poorly they’ve handled all of this.

Why have they handled it so poorly? As always, look to poor leadership:

Guess not.

In other news, Crane was — and I am not making this up — recently named the Houston Sports Executive of the Year. An award he has totally, totally earned, right?