King: Yankees have Ubaldo Jimenez on their radar

Via George King: Among the players on the Yankees’ radar this offseason is free agent right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez. The Indians made him a qualifying offer earlier this week and he’ll presumably reject it before next Monday’s deadline, meaning it will cost a high draft pick to sign him. For New York, that means the 18th overall pick.

Jimenez, 29, had a 3.30 ERA and 3.43 FIP in 182.2 innings this season, but he was awful in the first half (4.56 ERA and 4.50 FIP) and great in the second half (1.82 ERA and 2.17 FIP). He’s been incredibly up and down in recent years and there’s an A.J. Burnett-esque quality to him in that you don’t really know what you’re getting from start to start. Jimenez is still relatively young and he misses bats (9.56 K/9 and 25.0 K%), but his fastball velocity has declined in each of the last four years. The Yankees need pitching and should be looking at everyone, but Ubaldo is so very unpredictable. I don’t really know what to think.

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Mailbag: Drew, Infante, Ubaldo, Playoff Roster

Five questions and five answers this week. Use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send up anything at any time, mailbag questions or otherwise.

(Leon Halip/Getty)
(Leon Halip/Getty)

John asks: Hypothetically speaking (how else would we speak when speculating about the offseason?), if Robinson Cano were to get say $29M per year for nine years from the Dodgers, could the Yankees sign Brian McCann, Stephen Drew and Omar Infante for $29M combined? And, if so, might that be a better strategy for 2014 and beyond?

I don’t see how they could get those three for only $29M total. McCann is looking at Yadier Molina money on the open market ($15M annually) while neither Drew ($9.5M) nor Infante ($4M) have a reason to take a pay cut following their strong seasons. I think the best case scenario is something like $35M total, broken down into $15M (McCann) plus $12M (Drew) plus $8M (Infante). I’m probably underselling Drew and Infante given the dearth of quality middle infielders. It might be closer to $40M total than $35M when it’s all said and done.

If the Yankees can’t re-sign Cano — I would be stunned if they didn’t at this point — then spreading the wealth around is pretty much the only thing they can do. There’s no other superstar available this winter who is worth a nine-figure commitment. (Maybe Shin-Soo Choo. Maybe.) McCann plus Drew plus Infante would be a real good start, bhe Yankees need more pitching and outfield help though. This team isn’t one or two players away from getting back into contention. This roster has an awful lot holes.

Chris asks: Would you be in favor of reducing the time between signing and free agency? Teams today are forced to decide between players hitting their free agency years around age 28-30. Small market teams won’t pay for players past 30 and subsequently lose their players while big market teams continuously pay and pay. It hurts everyone. Isn’t the answer to make players free agents earlier? Cano would be worth millions and millions more if he was two or three years younger.

Oh yeah, absolutely. I am decidedly pro player when it comes to this stuff. Let them become free agents as soon as possible. Teams would never agree to it and, frankly, small market clubs would have no chance to contend if they didn’t get to control their young players for what is usually the most productive years of their career. If they knocked it down to five or even four years of team control before free agency, clubs like the Rays and Athletics would have no chance to contend. It would be a franchise killer. Baseball’s salary system is screwed up in that players earn the most when they’re on the decline, but it is what it is. The six years of team control are a necessarily evil.

Karl asks: How much amateur money is at stake over the possible variation in the final standings? Any chance a post-qualifying offer Hiroki Kuroda signs with the Dodgers to chase a ring and gets the Yankees a comp pick?

I’ll answer the second part first: yes I could definitely see Kuroda signing elsewhere in hope of winning a ring. The Dodgers are an obvious destination but the Tigers, Rangers, Nationals, and Cardinals could also be fits. Despite his ugly finish to the season, I’d have no trouble making Kuroda a $14M qualifying offer. It’s a no-brainer in my book.

As for the standings, the Yankees could finish with anything from the 12th through 16th best record in baseball. The Blue Jays have a compensation pick early in the first round, so that would give them the 16th through 21st overall pick. Right now they have the 17th overall pick and the only way they can move up to 16th is if they get swept by the Astros while the Diamondbacks sweep the Nationals this weekend. That’s the only possible way to move up at this point.

Based on last season’s slot values, that’s the difference between the 16th ($2.3M) and 21st ($1.97M) picks is kinda small. Nice chunk of change but not a game-changing amount. The 17th overall pick was slotted for $2.16M, but the values are expected to increase next summer. Based on historical data and all that, the difference in expected future value of the 16th pick and the 21st (or 25th or 30th, for that matter) pick is negligible. That’s all theoretical though, anything can happen in one given year. Obviously you’d like the higher pick.

(Jason Miller/Getty)
(Jason Miller/Getty)

Christopher asks: Would you be interested in the newly back on track Ubaldo Jimenez at around $13M? I think there’s great value there and he could be the steal that helps the Yankees get back on track.

Once upon a time I was in favor of trading Jesus Montero for Jimenez, and for a while there it looked like the Yankees dodged a serious bullet. Obviously that seems silly now because Michael Pineda still hasn’t thrown a single pitch for the team in the 20 months (!) since the trade. Seriously, he’s missed two years (and counting) with that shoulder injury. What a disaster.

Anyway, this is purely hypothetical because there is an $8M club option in Ubaldo’s contract for next season and the Indians will surely pick that up. The 29-year-old has a 3.38 ERA and 3.57 FIP in 176 innings this season but he’s been even better in the second half: 1.86 ERA and 2.39 FIP in 77.1 innings. Jimenez has been a big reason why the Tribe jumped over the Rangers in the wildcard race.

Update!: Turns out Jimenez’s club option became a mutual option after the trade. He’ll surely decline his half and become a free agent.

Now, as good as the second half has been, we have to remember Ubaldo was really bad just last season. Heck, he had a 4.56 ERA and 4.49 FIP in 98.2 innings of the first half this year. Last year it was a 5.40 ERA and 5.06 FIP in 176.2 innings. Jimenez would be worth a much deeper look if he was indeed going to be free agent — did he actually change anything? — but I’d be very skeptical about giving him $13M a year based on a good half-season. High reward but super duper high risk.

Donny asks: Since we might not actually get to see this come to fruition, I figured I would ask: What do you think the playoff roster might/should look like?

I’ve been saving this question for like, three weeks now. I didn’t want to answer it while the team still had a shot at the postseason because I figured there might be serious playoff roster talk at some point. Now that they’ve been eliminated, let’s have at it. Based on who is actually healthy and available right now, here’s the 25-man roster I would take into the wildcard play-in game/ALDS:

Catchers Infielders Outfielders Rotation Bullpen
Chris Stewart Robinson Cano Curtis Granderson CC Sabathia Mariano Rivera
J.R. Murphy Lyle Overbay Ichiro Suzuki Hiroki Kuroda David Robertson
Eduardo Nunez Alfonso Soriano Andy Pettitte Boone Logan
Mark Reynolds Zoilo Almonte Ivan Nova Shawn Kelley
Designated Hitter David Adams Vernon Wells Phil Hughes David Phelps
Alex Rodriguez Adam Warren
Travis Hafner
David Huff

The opponent would dictate the bullpen to a certain degree. If the Yankees drew an opponent with a right-handed heavy lineup, I would probably take Phil Hughes Preston Claiborne over Huff. In this general case I’d take the second lefty.

The Yankees have an alarming shortage of useful position players. Brendan Ryan is not eligible for the postseason roster because he wasn’t in the organization on August 31st, so Nunez is the starting shortstop by default. That leaves Adams or Reynolds as the everyday third baseman if A-Rod‘s various leg injuries don’t heal up in time. Hafner is pretty useless, but I’d rather have the extra bench bat than the 12th pitcher. I’d trim the staff down to ten pitchers if there was another position player worth taking. That … is not an inspiring roster. Geez.

Sunday’s Trade Deadline Open Thread

The non-waiver trade deadline is 4pm ET today, though we’ll occasionally see news of a deal leak out a little later than that. I remember word of the Kerry Wood trade broke at like, 4:15pm ET last year. Do the Yankees have a starting pitcher up their sleeve? We’ll find out soon enough. Let’s keep track of the latest here throughout the day, with the most recent news up top…

  • The Yankees aren’t going after any big-name arms at the moment, if anything they’ll make small, incremental upgrades. (Morosi)
  • Nevermind, Wandy’s not going to Cleveland. The Yankees wanted the Astros to pick up half the money on the lefties deal, but Houston said no and talks about the left-hander are dead. (Justice, Heyman & Jayson Stark)
  • The Yankees are not deep in any talks, and get this, it sounds like Wandy is heading to the Indians for two minor leaguers. How about that. (Olney & Richard Justice)
  • Bell Mike Adams is apparently headed to the Rangers. It was unlikely the Yankees would get him anyway, but at least now we don’t have to worry about it. (Ken Rosenthal)

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Ubaldo to the Yankees Indians; Oh S&%#!, what now?

Ubaldo to the Indians? Really?

Well, hey, more power to the Tribe, I suppose. The cost ultimately paid for Jimenez was right in line with what the Rockies had been requesting over the past several days now – that is to say, two elite prospects plus a couple of others. Or, simply put, a haul that would “wow.” And so, Colorado’s farm system instantly became that much stronger with the addition of right-handers Alex White and Joe Gardner, first baseman/outfielder, Matt McBride, and a player to be named later. The mystery player to be named later is largely expected to be Drew Pomeranz (once he becomes trade eligible later this August). Simultaneously, Cleveland’s newest rotation member could wind up being the final piece that allows the Indians to surpass their fellow AL Central rivals in the standings and achieve the much desired playoff birth.

Interestingly, Pomeranz may eventually be viewed as the most valuable component of the deal down the road. The 22 year old lefty is ranked 14th in Baseball America’s top 20, and has looked mighty impressive with Cleveland’s High-A squad. Alex White was the 15th overall draft pick in 2009 and was ranked in Baseball America’s top 50 list heading into the season.

Although he’s currently on the disabled list with a strained finger ligament, White was pitching well prior to the injury at the big league level. Overall, I think the trade represents a pretty solid haul for the Rockies (and a curious departure from typical organizational practice for the Indians). It also leaves me somewhat aghast at what the Yankees would have had to trade in order to make this happen for themselves; I’m thinking Banuelos, Betances, and Ivan Nova along with a possible complimentary player like Laird.

So, where does this turn of events leave the Yankees? I guess that depends on where your priorities lie. For an organization such as New York, the emphasis is always on the present tense rather than that of the future. Judging how much of the future can acceptably be mortgaged away is really a matter of opinion. As it turns out, Brian Cashman‘s opinion was one of reluctance and faith.  Time will tell whether this was the prudent move or not.  Admittedly, there’s still the possibility of a big trade with another organization, but given the short time frame remaining today, the chances have to be smaller.

Obviously, the Yankees rotation would have been deeper with Ubaldo in the mix than it is without him. There’s no arguing what he accomplished the past few seasons, just as there is no denying what he’s capable of doing going forward. Still, I maintain that Yankees fans *should not* jump off the ledge just yet.  Time will tell whether the Yankees would have experienced buyers remorse with Ubaldo, and with every transaction, we’ll have plenty of time to scrutinize the move retrospectively.

It’s looking more and more likely that the Yankees will make the postseason again this year, and as cliché as it is, anything can happen once you get there. As the rosters are currently constructed, I do believe the Yanks are a better team still than either the Rangers or whatever team emerges from the AL Central. Boston is beastly, no doubt about it.  Still, their rotation like everyone else, is far from perfect. There’s a legitimate reason the Sox made a strong bid for Rich Harden — who Joe expertly discussed last week — just as there are plenty of reasons why we, as fans, should be thankful the talks fell through thanks to a failed physical examination.  Overall, the Red Sox may be the better team, but if they are, it’s not by a substantial amount.

Also, regardless of whether one agrees or not with Cashman not pulling the trigger on some of the club’s more notable prospects, it’s always a good thing when the farm system has an abundance of talent. I know this brings very little solace to some — I am all for trading prospects under the right circumstance too — but in today’s baseball climate, valuable cost-controlled young players are more important than ever.  At least for now, the Yankees have flexibility in that regard.

New York may “pay the price” in the immediate future (i.e.- the postseason) by not having another very good arm in the rotation, but with a little luck, perhaps the return on prospect patience will be worth its weight in gold down the road.  Sure some of the prospects will undoubtedly not pan out, but given the potential of some of their young players, don’t be surprised if some of them do contribute in a big way in the future.  The obvious question remains the same; does cost controlled talent outweigh the salivating-inducing thought of another successful World Series run?

I, for one, am okay with how things turned out.  Yes, I realize this may just be a Yankee blogger’s way of rationalizing.  I would have loved to have Jimenez on the Yankees roster, but honestly, I wasn’t nearly as disappointed when this trade didn’t work out as I was when Cliff Lee departed to the Rangers last season.

For what it’s worth, I do believe the Bombers have enough talent to contend in the postseason this year.  I’m also delighted the team still has guys like Jesus Montero waiting in the ranks, and bringing reason optimism for the future.  Who knows; perhaps, we have the best of both worlds at this point.

* * *

I’d also like to share some news on a more personal level. Yesterday afternoon, I went hiking with my wonderful girlfriend of six years, Kylee. We reached a secluded spot with an absolutely breathtaking view of the lake. I proposed and she said, “Yes!”  Ky is now officially my fiancée.

Kylee, you mean the world to me. I love you. I’m the luckiest man alive.

Saturday’s Trade Deadline Open Thread

Gotta figure the next day and a half will be pretty hectic with rumors and trades and what not, so let’s start a thread for any Yankees-related stuff throughout the day. I’ll update this post and bump it to the top of the site whenever something noteworthy breaks, so the top bullets will be the latest info…

  • The Yankees bowed out of talks for Ubaldo four days ago after Colorado refused to let them perform a physical on the right-hander if they agreed to a trade. For what it’s worth, Jimenez is warming up to pitch against the Padres at the moment, so the report of him being scratch was erroneous. (Sherman)
  • Jimenez has been scratched from tonight’s start, and a deal appears to be done. He’s heading to Cleveland. (Heyman & Renck)
  • The Yankees took all the prospects Colorado wanted for Ubaldo off the table, and instead offered Phil Hughes and several others. The Rockies weren’t happy with that, so they turned to the Indians and sped up talks. The Yanks tried to sell it as troubled pitcher for troubled pitcher. (all Joel Sherman)

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Trade Rumors: Ubaldo, Betances, Brown, Kuroda

The latest from the trade rumor circuit…

  • Talks between the Yankees and Rockies about Ubaldo have not gone well, mostly because Colorado is marketing him as an ace while the Yankees see him as more of a number two. There’s also some suspicion that’s something’s wrong since he’s on the market in the first place. (Joel Sherman)
  • The Yankees are willing to move Jesus Montero and Dellin Betances in the same package for a sure thing, but they don’t feel Ubaldo fits the bill. (Sherman)
  • There’s some speculation that the Yankees could get involved in the Hunter Pence-to-Philadelphia deal by being a third team. They would trade Betances for Domonic Brown, the left-handed impact bat they lack. I’d make that deal too, in a heartbeat. Philadelphia had a scout in Trenton last night to watch Betances. Remember, that scenario is just speculation. (Sherman, Sherman)
  • One note on Hiroki Kuroda: because of his no-trade clause, there’s a league mandated 24-hour period before a deal can be finalized. That means the deadline to trade him is tomorrow, not Sunday. There still hasn’t been an indication that he’s on the move.
  • One rival executive said the Yankees have been “suspiciously quiet” so far, or as I like to say, ninja-like. (Marc Carig)

Update: Ken Rosenthal says the Yankees have made multiple calls to the Dodgers about Kuroda today, but none to the Rockies about Jimenez.

Trade Rumor Roundup: Ubaldo, Bedard, Kuroda

Still no trades, but lots of rumors. Here’s the latest concerning the Yankees…

  • There still has not been any significant movement regarding Ubaldo Jimenez, meaning that no team (including the Yankees) has shown a willingness to meet the Rockies asking price of three top prospects. (Joel Sherman)
  • The Yankees will have a scout on hand to watch Erik Bedard make his return from the disabled list tomorrow night, and the Mariners will have a scout watching Double-A Trenton tonight. Bedard has been out since late-June with a knee strain and will be facing the Rays in Seattle. We looked at him as a trade candidate last month. (Jon Paul Morosi & Josh Norris)
  • The Dodgers want any Hiroki Kuroda trade to be a “true baseball deal” and not just a salary dump. They want a young player in return for the right-hander, preferably a starting pitcher. Contrary to some reports, Kuroda will bring draft pick compensation (projects to be a Type-B free agent) if offered arbitration after the season. He will be treated like a player with six-plus years of service time, a courtesy MLB extends to Japanese vets. (Jayson Stark & Morosi)
  • “I’m going to be hard-pressed to find anything better than getting Bartolo Colon and Phil Hughes off the disabled list,” said Brian Cashman to Dan Martin today. “I can’t imagine I’m going to run into anything but you’ve still got to go through the motions … We’re prepared for chaos if it comes before Sunday’s deadline. But I like the team we have.” That’s just GM speak, Cashman’s not going to come out and say he’s desperate for anything because it’ll only work against him.