The New York Yankees appear to have gone from having an average starting pitching rotation to one of the best in the American League.
On Friday, reports surfaced that the Yankees signed former Los Angeles Dodgers' starter Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year deal worth $10 million, along with bonuses.
But general manager Brian Cashman wasn't done. He pulled off a major trade by sending highly regarded catching prospect Jesus Montero, along with rookie reliever Hector Noesi, to the Seattle Mariners for right-handed phenom Michael Pineda and pitching prospect Jose Campos.
Kuroda, 36, immediately vaults to the No. 2 starter behind lefty ace C.C. Sabathia, while Pineda figures to be the No. 3 starter in the rotation.
Kuroda had perhaps his best season in the Major Leagues in 2011, posting a 3.07 earned run average in 202 innings with Los Angeles. The Japanese star is known for being able to pitch deep into games and for solid control.
In Pineda's rookie year, he posted a 3.74 ERA in 171 innings. Although Pineda struggled after the All-Star break, he was still one of the better strikeout specialists in the American League last season.
Pineda, 22, is listed at 6 feet 7 inches tall, and he is considered among the most talented young pitchers in baseball. Cashman must have a high opinion of Pineda if he was willing to deal his best hitting prospect.
Montero is coming off an excellent season. The 22-year-old star was slotted to be the designated hitter this season after hitting .328 in 61 at-bats in 2011. The deal makes sense for Seattle, who had perhaps the worst bats in the big leagues last year.
The Yankees now have a great deal of depth in the starting rotation. Along with Sabathia, Kuroda, and Pineda, manager Joe Girardi still has Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes, Freddie Garcia, and A.J. Burnett. Bartolo Colon, who is a free agent, is almost certainly not an option to re-sign after Friday's deals.
Last season, the Yankees had the fourth best ERA (3.73) in the American League.