Blue Jays’ third baseman, Brett Lawrie and Yankee catcher Mariner catcher, Jesus Montero are two of the game’s best young hitters. In just 150 at-bats last season, Lawrie mashed nine home runs and posted an impressive .293/.373/.580 line as an August call-up. In an even smaller sample size of 61 at-bats, Montero hit four home runs and posted an impressive .328/.406/.590 line as a September call-up. As the Mariners were searching for a bat, they called the Blue Jays and asked if they were interested in dealing Lawrie for Michael Pineda. Sources say that the Jay scoffed at the offered and simply moved on while the Yankees ended up dealing Montero. However, did the Blue Jays make a mistake by hanging onto Lawrie and passing up on Pineda?

Lawrie Being Lawrie--AP Photo

If Baseball America has anything to say about it, the Jays missed a golden opportunity. In terms of prospect rank, BA had Jesus Montero ranked as its fifth best prospect in 2011 while Lawrie came in 35th. Despite the unequal ranking, Montero and Lawrie do have some striking similarities. Both Montero and Lawrie are 22 years old, shot through Triple A last season before making their respective big league rosters. In addition, each player possesses massive offensive power and has shown that power early on in their careers. While the two offer some similiar comparisons with the bat, the glove isn’t equal.

We’ve heard the debate about Montero’s position for the last three years. While we haven’t seen a huge sample size of MLB data from him, we do know that enough scouts question his throwing motion, release, and ability to call games. Montero projects to be a first baseman/DH type, but may have some trouble with Justin Smoak as the imcumbent player at first. Ultimately, the Mariners will give Montero a shot behind the plate, but how long will it last for?

While Montero’s defense has been constantly scrutinized, Lawrie’s defense was pretty good for a first-year player. In his 53 games, Lawrie only committed six errors at third base. Lawrie possess great quickness, arm strength, and the ability to quickly move laterally for balls hit to his left. Lawrie’s defense makes him the total package while Montero clearly has questions about his glove.

At the end of the day, it’s extremely hard to find cheap, good, young pitching. The Mariners, who are desperate for bats, were willing to deal from a point of strength to get a bat. Not every team has that luxury. The Blue Jays clearly need to the help in the rotation and Michael Pineda could have developed into their future ace. Instead, they’ll have to deal with him wearing Yankee pinstriples.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Brett Lawrie and Jesus Montero will have good careers. What I don’t get is–why the Jays weren’t even willing to entertain the thought of trading Lawrie. In terms of prospect rankings and associated data, the Lawrie was a lesser prospect than Montero was and a case can be made that the Blue Jays need the pitching more than the Yanks do.

Regardless, the Blue Jays clearly value Brett Lawrie more than Michael Pineda and one team’s loss is another team’s gain.