Archive for Ubaldo Jimenez
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.
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)
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.
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.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the Yankees will make a big move in the next four days. Earlier in the month it might have appeared that the trade market was relatively bare and that there was no clear upgrade for the Yankees. Yet, as happens every year, the story has changed as we have approached the non-waiver trade deadline. The Yankees have a definite need in the rotation, and there are a couple of starters on the market who could help fill that.
Ubaldo Jimenez and Hiroki Kuroda could not be more different. One’s old, one’s young; one throws a mid-90s fastball, the other in the low 90s; one relies on ground balls, while the other is more the strikeout type; one is 36 and a free agent at year’s end, while the other is 27 and has two more years before reaching free agency; one will cost a bounty in prospects, while the other might not even agree to a trade. Yet both of them can help the Yankees rotation by slotting into the upper portion. In the coming days we could see one of them in pinstripes. Which one makes more sense?
If you look at only ERA, you might wonder how in the world Jimenez has out-performed Kuroda. Jimenez owns a 4.20 ERA, while Kuroda is at 3.11. Of course, that would suggest that ERA is completely under the pitcher’s control, which it is not. Jimenez has both a lower FIP and xFIP than Kuroda. He also has performed much better since struggling earlier in the year, producing a 3.03 ERA in his last 11 starts. Again, ERA isn’t everything, but he’s also struck out a batter per inning in that span, while walking just 17 (2.14 per nine).
Considering Jimenez got a late start in the spring, and missed two weeks in April, it’s understandable that he needed most of May to round back into form. But now he’s in that form, and he’s looking like an ace again. This isn’t a knock on Kuroda, whose performances have been very good since coming to the States in 2008. But in that span Jimenez ranks 10th in all of baseball with 18.8 WAR. His ERA, FIP, and xFIP are all relatively in line with Kuroda, but he has pitched 130 more innings.
It’s hard to make an argument that the Dodgers would get even one of the Yankees’ top five prospects in exchange for Kuroda. He’s a free agent after the season, and if he doesn’t retire he’ll either re-sign with the Dodgers or move back to Japan. In fact, it’s not even a sure thing that he’ll waive his no-trade clause: “My honest feeling is that I can’t fathom wearing another uniform than the Dodgers uniform right now,” he said yesterday. The point might be moot.
Jimenez, on the other hand, is said to cost three of the Yankees’ top prospects. If that seems like a steep price, well, it is. But remember, the payoff is a top-15 pitcher since 2008, so he’s not only good, but he has a track record. Is that worth eighteen years of total team control on three top prospects? It’s impossible to get a strong consensus on that, because of the polarizing prospect bias. Some think you always trade prospects for vets, while others would rather hang onto every prospect.
Yet here’s an interesting twist. CBS Sports’s Danny Knobler mentioned that the Rockies want three or four players from this list: Jesus Montero, Austin Romine, Dellin Betances, Ivan Nova, or Phil Hughes. If they can get Hughes into that deal, maybe that changes things. Hughes, Betances, and Romine is a much easier pill to swallow than Nova, Betances, and Montero. Though when we hold this up to the reality test, and we see Hughes’s performances lately, it’s tough to imagine that the Rockies are interested.
Overall Help: Jimenez
Jimenez not only slots into the Yankees rotation right behind Sabathia this year, but he could remain there for at least the next two. That takes the pressure off the Yanks to make a splash in the free agent markets to come, which don’t appear particularly strong. Remember, many teams are locking up their young aces, and so we won’t see many of them reach free agency. That’s where the Yankees are strongest. They might have to make a sacrifice now in order to maintain a strong rotation.
If the Yankees get Kuroda, they might be tempted to spend $90 million on C.J. Wilson this winter. While that wouldn’t be the worst investment — I fully believe he’ll perform better than A.J. Burnett, though that’s not setting the bar particularly high — it’s another big contract for a player around age 30. It might cost some pieces from their farm system, but getting Jimenez in pinstripes means they can forget about the free agent class this winter and focus on developing from within. They’ll have three surefire bets for the rotation next year in Sabathia, Jimenez, and Burnett, with a few guys from the farm who could step into those final two spots.
Jimenez’s contract, too makes matters a bit easier. He’ll be a No. 2 getting paid like someone of lesser ability, and so can free up payroll for the Yankees to make other acquisitions. While the Yankees do play a different game than everyone else, I’m sure they’d like to play the value game every once in a while. After all, they need cost-controlled players so that they can continue spending $180 million on guys like Teixeira and $160 million on guys like Sabathia.
There is nothing wrong with the Yankees’ pursuit of Hiroki Kuroda, and if they ended up with him by Sunday I’d honestly be thrilled. He’ll provide an upgrade over their current fifth starter, Phil Hughes, and will stabilize the rotation heading into the playoffs. Jimenez, on the other hand, will be their No. 2 for years to come. He’ll cost considerably more, but he brings more benefits, both in the short and long term. It hurts to give up prospects, but in this case, considering the alternatives — and the alternative of doing nothing — Jimenez makes the most sense.
With just five days until the non-waiver trade deadline, rumors are starting to fly with reckless abandon. The Yankees, by all indications, are looking into most available starting pitchers. There are ups and downs to each, of course, so let’s take a look at the three that have gotten some play in the past day.
Ubaldo Jimenez: In terms of talent, years of control, and contract, he’s the best pitcher on the market. It’s still unclear why the Rockies would consider trading him in the first place. The only reason is to start a quick rebuilding process, since their two biggest stars are under contract for many years to come. Joel Sherman reports that the Rockies have come down in price and are asking for three of Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Jesus Montero, and Ivan Nova. Perhaps if they take two and some other prospects it could work, but I cant’ see the Yanks trading three of their top five guys for him.
Ricky Nolasco: We’ve heard his name mentioned a few times in passing before, but nothing seriously. This morning SI’s Jon Heyman said that the Yanks tried for him, but that the Marlins aren’t ready to deal. Nolaso is under contract through 2013, for $9 million next year and $11.5 million in 2013. I don’t quite like this one, unless he comes super cheap. His results have never matched his potential — they’ve been pretty far off, in fact — and his strikeouts are way down this year.
John Danks: There’s nothing connecting him to the Yankees, but Ken Rosenthal reports that he’s on the market. I wrote up the case for Danks last week. He’s my favorite option on the market, all considered. He won’t cost as much as Jimenez and he’s better than Nolasco. The White Sox seem to be in wheeling and dealing mode right now; as I write this, they’re in the process of trading Edwin Jackson to the Blue Jays.
Via Danny Knobler, the Yankees are the team with the best chance to acquire Ubaldo Jimenez from the Rockies before Sunday’s trade deadline. That doesn’t mean they’re close to a deal, just that they have the best chance at him. Honestly, this sounds like someone (likely Colorado) is trying to drive up interest (and the price) for the right-hander, but take from it what you will.
The deadline is coming up rather quickly, so let’s round up the latest from Yankeeland…
- Unless a big-time ace caliber starter hits the market, the Yankees have made it clear to other teams that they will not trade Jesus Montero, Dellin Betances, Manny Banuelos, and Austin Romine. (Joel Sherman)
- The Yankees would, however, consider dealing Montero for Ubaldo Jimenez, but the Rockies want multiple top prospects for their ace. New York is also concerned about his inconsistency, arm action, and the NL-AL transition. Colorado is out of it (11 games back now), but they have little reason to move the young and cost-controlled Jimenez, who’s one of the better pitchers in baseball. (Joel Sherman)
- Executives from other clubs believe the Yanks will end up trading for a left-handed reliever at some point this week. We heard about their interest in Craig Breslow over the weekend. (Jon Paul Morosi)
- The Yankees would “pay big” to get Gio Gonzalez from the Athletics, but Oakland is still refusing to talk about the lefty. Gio threw 111 pitches while giving up six runs in 4.2 IP against the Yanks yesterday, but he has a 3.57 FIP on the season. He’s young (26 in Sept.), left-handed, throws hard, misses bats, and is cheap (still in his pre-arbitration years), but the walks and lack of success away from the Coliseum are scary. (Sherman).
- The Yankees remain interested in Hiroki Kuroda but have not had any recent discussions with the Dodgers about his availability. The 36-year-old right-hander has a full no-trade clause (and wants compensation to waive it) and Rosenthal says he’s keeping his options open, but other reports indicate that he will not approve a trade to the east coast. Kuroda’s got a 3.76 FIP this season, which is actually his worst since coming to the U.S., but he’s pitched very well over the last two months and makes sense for New York. (Ken Rosenthal & Bob Klapisch)
It all keeps coming back to Cliff Lee. A year ago, the Yankees were on the precipice of acquiring Lee from the Mariners, a feat which would have given them one of the best rotations in baseball. They failed, and a short time later were bounced from the playoffs by a team led by Cliff Lee. Soon after, they saw Cliff Lee spurn the them for the Phillies in free agency. By my count, that’s three separate instances of Cliff Lee-induced pain. When Andy Pettitte retired a few months after Lee went to Philadelphia, Cashman pivoted. In a manner reminiscent of the Red Sox in 2009, the Yankees decided to build the rotation on the cheap, allowing Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon and Ivan Nova to battle it out for the two remaining rotation slots (the other three being occupied by Sabathia, Burnett and Hughes). Once Hughes went down with an injury, Colon took his spot and performed admirably. Garcia has been fantastic too. Yet all along it’s seemed as if plan for the Yankees’ rotation was to run with these guys until a better option arose on the trade market. Freddy Garcia’s nice and all, but shouldn’t the Yankees go into battle in October with a serious complement to Sabathia? Yet here we stand a mere week or so away from the trade deadline and there seems to be no complement available? Where are the pitchers? Where are the targets? Where are the potential upgrades?
A few big names have arisen, to be sure. Ubaldo Jimenez was the target last week, but it doesn’t seem that Colorado is serious about trading him. Some have suggested that they were simply recognizing that the market was very weak and seeing if some team (like the Yankees) would be willing to panic and overpay for their lanky and affordable ace. In the absence of that a deal seems unlikely. James Shields has also been rumored to be available, but not to the Yankees. If Tampa decides to move the putative ace it won’t likely be an intra-divisional move. Hiroki Kuroda would be a potential option, one for whom I’ve long advocated, but his no-trade clause puts him in the driver’s seat and means that he’ll determine whether he gets traded and to where he gets traded. John Danks would be a nice upgrade, but there’s no indication that the White Sox are looking to move a starter and the teams don’t even match up particularly well for a trade anyway. Who’s left, Jason Marquis?
A year ago the Yankees came close to having a very good rotation and no Jesus Montero when they offered Seattle Montero for Lee. That deal fell through. A few months later, they came close to having a very good rotation and Jesus Montero when they tried to get Cliff Lee for nothing more than money. That deal fell through. The plus side is that the Yankees still have Montero, of course. Whether they really want him is another question. They don’t seem to have any interest in calling him up any time soon, and Cashman has gone out of his way to make it clear that Montero is available in trades. Yet there is no Cliff Lee on the market this year, no pitcher for whom Montero would be a suitable return. Right now the effort to swap Montero for a pitcher looks a day late and a buck short.
There is serious downside risk in relying on the trade market. Sometimes the targets don’t materialize and other times your assets don’t matchup with the best available targets. This shouldn’t be interpreted as a criticism of Cashman. No one that I’m aware of predicted that the Yankees would whiff on Lee twice, lose Pettitte to retirement, and then find themselves unable to upgrade the rotation via the trade market at all. It sounds like a worst-case scenario dreamt up on a Red Sox message board. Yet, as of July 23rd that’s exactly what’s happened. The best pitcher truly on the market seems to be Kuroda, a pitcher with a no-trade clause and a disinclination to leave Los Angeles. It’s not the situation the Yankees hoped to be in at this point.
The old saying is that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. You can always hope that better opportunities arise later, but your risk goes up the further away you are from the acquisition target. This entire market could change very quickly, and that’s what makes the trade deadline so exciting. Yet, as of today it looks like the Yankees are dancing alone. The most realistic option at this point seems very unlikely, but I suppose there’s no harm in continuing to beat the drum once more, until the deadline passes. Help us, Hiroki. You’re our only hope!
It appears that the Yankees’ Plan C is continuing to evolve as expected. After the Phillies signed Cliff Lee and Andy Pettitte retired, they were stuck in a holding pattern. With nothing of note immediately available on the trade market, the only reasonable plan was to fill the rotation with stopgaps and hope that someone unexpected hit the trade market around deadline time. At the time I thought that might be Chris Carpenter, but it turned out to be someone better. For the past week-plus we’ve heard non-stop talk about Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez, whom no one thought would become available this year. While the rumors started with interest from the Reds, the focus has shifted to the Yankees.
In pure player terms, Jimenez is exactly what the Yankees need right now. The pitching staff did a phenomenal job in the first half, but there are concerns going forward. While Colon’s and Garcia’s previous two starts aren’t necessarily a portend for the future, it’s certainly a possibility that their luck has run out. That would not only leave the Yankees searching for pitching, but top end pitching. Jimenez has been just that in the past two-plus seasons, with a 3.35 ERA and 3.27 FIP in 550 innings since 2009. Even more impressively, he has a 2.94 ERA and 3.04 FIP in 291 innings away from the hitter-friendly Coors Field.
In Jimenez the Yankees would get their No. 1a to Sabathia’s No. 1, and they’d have him at a steep discount through 2013 (he’ll surely void his 2014 option, as is his right if he’s traded). Given his talent and contract, the Yankees would have to part with a significant package of prospects to entice the Rockies. As Mike said in the obligatory Ubaldo post, think the original Dan Haren trade, which sent a legion of prospects to the A’s. We got a preview of a possible package over the weekend, when SI’s Jon Heyman noted the Rockies’ asking price: Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, and Ivan Nova. That’s steep for sure, but it’s really just a starting point. They’re in the driver’s seat, so they might as well ask for the moon. The Yankees, Heyman further notes, will not part with any of those three pitchers along with Montero in a trade. Folks, we have what appear to be real, live negotiations.
(Unless, of course, you believe Buster Olney, who says that the two sides haven’t exchanged names. But, given their track records from this past winter, I’ll actually trust Heyman on this one. Plus, having names in place makes for better discussion.)
Once both sides step back from their original stances, the progression is logical. The Yankees will remove one of the pitchers from the deal, most likely Banuelos, leaving the package at Montero, Betances, Nova, and presumably another prospect, likely someone in the No. 8 to 20 range on the Yanks list. That’s a deal I would green light. There are no guarantees in baseball, and that goes doubly for guys who have yet to play in the majors. Both Montero and Betances have major upside and could contribute to future Yankees teams. But they both have enough flaws to leave the Yankees concerned. Cashing them in for a proven No. 1 or 2 pitcher who is right in the prime of his career provides the difficult balance between winning now and winning in the future.
Of course, it’s unlikely that the matter unfolds that smoothly. Two obstacles could stand in the way from the Yankees perspective. First is the matter of Banuelos. He’s the top pitching prospect in the Yankees organization, and this morning Heyman dropped an interesting item: the Rockies want a chip better than Montero as the centerpiece in any trade. That would seem to indicate Banuelos (though it could mean Betances, since Betances has a slightly higher ceiling). The trade does change if the Rockies demand Banuelos in Betances’s stead. He’s a lefty and a good bet to be in the rotation sometime in 2012, so it’s easy to see why the Yankees would be reluctant to include him.
The second obstacle is Ivan Nova. He’s the Yankees No. 6 starter right now, and their only real backup plan who has major league experience. Trading him would make Adam Warren the best depth option, since they’re apparently set on leaving Hector Noesi in the bullpen. True, acquiring Jimenez would give them a rotation of Sabathia-Jimenez-Hughes-Burnett-Colon/Garcia, but that fifth spot will still be important during the stretch run — more important still, because Burnett is pitching more like a No. 5, and Hughes still has plenty to prove. I still think the Yankees should go ahead, but I would understand their reluctance to remove MLB-tested depth options.
Chances are nothing happens on this front. The Rockies shouldn’t be overly motivated to move Jimenez, given his team-friendly contract and ace-like pitching. The prospective Yankees’ package of a front-line pitching prospect, a power hitting prospect, and a major league ready pitcher might be enticing, but I’m not sure it’s far enough over the top for the Rockies to take. Anything more than Montero-Betances-Nova plus a lesser prospect would have to give the Yankees pause. While Jimenez would help, they simply can’t empty the farm for him. With all of these moving parts, it’s likely the Yankees will have to turn elsewhere for pitching help. But if they can strike a deal in which they retain Banuelos, I think it would behoove them, both for this year and the future, to pull the trigger. It’s not often that a pitcher of Jimenez’s caliber becomes available. Considering the dearth of free agent pitching in the coming years, and the trend of signing young pitchers to long-term contracts, this is a move the Yankee should make.