The Colorado Rockies have a nice assortment of young talent, namely shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, center fielder Carlos Gonzalez, and starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez. Although they will probably fall short of the postseason this year, Colorado is by no means a bad team. In the weak NL West, this is a team that should be able to contend for many years into the future. So why are they considering trading their best pitcher?
To start, Jimenez is easily the best pitcher in this year's trade market. What makes him even more enticing is his contract: he is set to make $2.8 million this year and $4.2 million in 2012. 2013 and 2014 are club option years in which the ace would make $5.75 million and $8 million respectively. Therefore it is likely that teams would overpay for the 27-year-old, especially when you consider the fact that two of the teams looking for a top-0f-the-rotation starter are the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.
In shopping Jimenez, Rockies' GM Dan O'Dowd is simply reacting to a weak market. The fact that Ubaldo is so far superior to the other pitchers in this year's market makes at least listening to offers a no-brainer. The Rockies will not trade Jimenez unless some team - prospectively the Yankees or Red Sox - are willing to give up their very best prospects.
The Yankees have reportedly discussed a possible trade with O'Dowd. Unsurprisingly, Colorado is asking New York for not one, not two, not three, but four of their best prospects (LeBron hasn't made any noise in a while, I figured the reference was appropriate). The Rockies want starters Ivan Nova, Manny Banuelos, and Dellin Betances as well as catcher Jesus Montero. Although Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has indicated that he is willing to depart with Montero, the three aforementioned starters have been deemed off-limits.
Will the Yankees ultimately put together a package that sends Jimenez to the Bronx? Surely he would make New York an edge in the postseason.
The righty is 5-8 with a 4.08 ERA this season. Although he struggled early on, Jimenez has begun to resemble the man who began last season with a 15-1 record. Since June 1, Ubaldo has not surrendered more than three earned runs in any of his starts. With his mid-to-high 90's fastball and devastating off-speed pitches, Jimenez has Cy Young-type stuff.
But for all of his positives, Ubaldo is not quite as good as he seems. He has a 5-8 record and 4.08 ERA pitching in the NL West. Arizona, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego are certainly not offensive juggernauts. What happens to the 2010 NL All-Star Game starter when he has to face the lethal lineups in American League? Or Milwaukee and St. Louis in the NL Central (Cincinnati has reportedly demonstrated interest in Jimenez)?
If a deal is made for Ubaldo, the Rockies will likely have robbed their trading partner. Why would you give up the best of your farm system for a man with zero postseason experience, a delivery that screams tommy-john surgery, and a fastball with declining velocity? Because he's the only guy on the market that can actually make a difference this year.