Yanks consider dealing pitcher for a bat

Starting pitcher A.J. Burnett of the New York Starting pitcher A.J. Burnett of the New York Yankees walks off the field after being pulled during the 6th inning of a game against the Kansas City Royals. (Aug. 15, 2011) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Monday night that he's looking to deal a starting pitcher for a bat to fill the vacancy at designated hitter created by the trade of Jesus Montero to the Mariners.

That trade, in which the Yankees received starting pitcher Michael Pineda and pitching prospect Jose Campos in exchange for Montero and pitcher Hector Noesi, was announced Monday -- 10 days after the teams reached agreement.

The players involved had to take physicals, and with the players all at home in their respective countries, that took some time. The Yankees soon will announce their other move from Jan. 13, the signing of free-agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year, $10-million deal.

Once that's official, the Yankees will have seven starters for five slots. The likely candidates to be traded are A.J. Burnett (who has two years and $33 million left on his contract) and Phil Hughes.

"Clearly, we have a lot of starters now, and that's a good thing," Cashman said. "Maybe I use our excess pitching to find a bat. That's a possibility."

The Yankees also have been contacted by the agents for just about every free-agent DH-type, including Johnny Damon, Raul IbaƱez and Vladimir Guerrero. But, Cashman said, "We'll look at the trade market first and foremost and see where that takes us."

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The Yankees likely would have to eat a significant amount of the money left on Burnett's contract to get anything worthwhile in return. Hughes' value is uncertain; he is only 25 and won 18 games two years ago, but he suffered through an injury-plagued 2011 in which he went 5-5 with a 5.79 ERA.

Cashman said he still sees Hughes as a starter, though it remains to be seen if the righthander could crack a rotation that is going to feature CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Pineda and Kuroda. If no one is dealt, Hughes, Burnett and Freddy Garcia will battle in spring training for the fifth spot.

"I'm not really ready to kind of speculate on how it's going to shake out," Cashman said. "I just know that we're deeper and that means we're better."

They're deeper in pitchers today because Cashman was willing to dip into his stock of catching prospects and part with the 22-year-old Montero, who impressed with his big bat in his brief time with the Yankees last season.

"He may very well be the best player I've traded," Cashman said. "And I've obviously been doing this for quite some time. He's that good . . . We gave up a lot in Montero. But we're hoping we got a lot in Pineda at the same time."

Cashman said he first discussed the Montero-Pineda possibility with Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik at the winter meetings in December. Zduriencik asked Cashman if there was anyone other than Felix Hernandez he would consider taking in exchange for Montero.

Pineda, 23, went 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA in 2011, his first big-league season. In a statement released by the Yankees, he said: "I'm feeling great and I'm beyond excited. I never thought I would become a New York Yankee so early into my career. This is the best thing in the world. Pitching alongside CC Sabathia, I'm speechless. And playing alongside players such as Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter is unbelievable."

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