One of the more fascinating trades in recent years came in January of 2012 when the Mariners traded Michael Pineda, coming of a terrific rookie season, to the Yankees for Jesus Montero, regarded as one of top five or six prospects in the game.
It was the type of trade you never see: Your young guy for our young guy, an old-fashioned challenge trade. It wasn't about contracts or money or rebuilding, just talent for talent.
The trade, so interesting to break down at the time, has been a disaster for everyone involved. Montero was one of the players suspended for 50 games on Monday in the Biogenesis case, ending his terrible season in which he (A) Didn't hit in the majors; (B) Proved once and for all he'll never be a catcher; (C) Got injured.
In 164 games with the Mariners, Montero has hit .252/.293/.377, a huge disappointment for a player who was supposed to have a can't-miss bat. As Dave Cameron wrote today on the U.S.S. Mariner site:
Montero is no longer a catcher, his offensive potential is in question, and he’ll likely enter the 2014 season in Tacoma, trying to prove to everyone that he can actually hit well enough to justify a big league roster spot at some point. ... But his stock has probably fallen faster than anyone else in baseballs over the last few years. For the short term, you can basically forget about Jesus Montero.
The news hasn't been any better for Pineda, however. He missed all of 2012 following shoulder surgery and in February pleaded no contest to a DUI arrest from last August. Currently in Triple-A as he rehabs his shoulder, Pineda left his latest start on Friday after two innings due to shoulder stiffness. He'll visit team doctors but any hope of him appearing in the majors this year is probably over.
Does either team have a chance to ever "win" this trade? Shoulder injuries are notoriously difficult to come back from, more so than elbow injuries (or Tommy John surgery). But Montero showed little that would translate to big success at the major league level, with any power he did have undermined by a poor approach at the plate (just 37 walks in 663 plate appearances with Seattle).
At this point, the odds are long against either ever becoming a star. January of 2012 seems like a long time ago.