PALM COAST, Fla. -- Even if they don't win a championship, the Yankees have a chance to be major winners this season.
Two winters ago, when the Yankees sent their top overall prospect, Jesus Montero, to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Michael Pineda, an all-star pitcher with some serious potential, they thought they had acquired their future ace.
But a couple of shoulder surgeries later, the Yankees have yet to see him throw a Major League pitch in anything more than spring training.
Pineda is finally healthy -- at least that is what Brian Cashman is telling us -- entering spring training this year, and is ready to compete for a spot in the rotation for the first time since coming to New York.
In all, nobody got what they thought they would.
But that can change this year with Pineda and the Yankees. Assuming he can stay healthy, they'll have a chance to be the winners of the trade, even if the victory comes a few years later.
Of course, everyone has their views on the matter, and I'm sure Cashman and Joe Girardi will have different opinions on how to use Pineda, but here is how I see things shaping out.
Pineda will be battling for the fifth spot in the Yankees' rotation this spring, and the job won't be won easily. He'll be going up against the like of David Phelps, who won the job last spring, Adam Warren, and Vidal Nuno. Warren pitched well out of the bullpen last season, and might be more suited in that role, and Nuno proved to be effected in his couple of starts in 2013.
There is always a chance that the Yankees decided to bring in one more starter, maybe someone with more experience, to compete for the final starting spot. But I don't see that happening right now.
Although, I think that of four starters most likely in the running for the job, Pineda might be in line to win it, ahead of Phelps, Nuno and Warren.
The reason being that the Yankees invested heavily in him, and really want to see what he can give them.
If you remember, this guy was an all-star in 2011, his last year in Seattle before being traded. If he can earn himself a rotation spot, and pitch to half of the level he was at in 2011, Pineda becomes, possibly, the best fifth starter in the game, and helps set the Yankees' rotation near the top of the league.
However, I don't expect Pineda to come back that great right away. He hasn't faced Major league hitters in a couple of years -- he only made a few starts in the minors last season - and it might take him a little bit of time to adjust.
But if he can get back to normal, and stay healthy, then Pineda becomes a major asset to the Yankees not just this year, but for the next few years. And with the farm system where it is, that's a pretty big victory for the Yankees.
Gavin Ewbank is the Lead Writer of Yanks Beat Blog, and you can follow him on Twitter (below).