The Yankees were one of 17 teams in Denver on Thursday night to watch Ubaldo Jimenez pitch.Jimenez is certainly the most tantalizing name being bandied about as the deadline approaches, at least in so far as the Yankees are concerned. He's young, he's cheap, and his stuff is among the very best in all of baseball. His struggles have been well-documented this season, but it is worth noting that he's maintained well above-average strikeout and groundball rates while simultaneously posting a FIP 17% better than league-average. On the whole, Jimenez's 2011 has left a bit to be desired ... but he's the sort of game-changer that I believe could be the difference between a first-round exit and a World Series Championship.
According to several talent evaluators, they have a better than average chance to acquire the 27-year-old because they have the top-shelf prospects the Rockies are looking for.
In mid-June the Rockies started getting calls on Jimenez and were told they weren’t actively shopping him, but if teams were willing to talk about moving their best prospects the Rockies would listen.
At 44-48 and 8 ½ games behind the NL West-leading Giants, the Rockies are very close to being sellers in a sellers' market as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches.
According to a person familiar with the Rockies’ mindset, they believe Jimenez has pouted this year because Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez received contract extensions and he didn’t.
“They are annoyed at him,’’ the source said of Jimenez, who is 5-8 with a 4.08 ERA but pitching better lately after starting the season 0-5.
The Rockies recently scouted the Yankees’ Triple-A and Double-A teams and like Jesus Montero but not with the idea of using him at catcher. Instead, they view him as a first baseman. They also are high on pitchers Manuel Banuelos and Dellin Betances.
However, the party line other organizations have heard coming from The Bronx is that those three are untouchable.
He is making $2.8 million this year and $4.2 million next season. There is a club option for $5.75 million with a $1 million buyout for 2013 and a club option for $8 million and a $1 million buyout for 2014. The second option is only good if the 2013 option is exercised and may be voided if Jimenez is traded.
Given Jimenez's age and team-friendly contract, the Rockies can and will seek a king's ransom for their ace. The question then becomes whether the Yankees should be willing to part with one or more of their top prospects in what amounts to something of a roll of the dice. In my mind, the answer is fairly simple - yes. I would be willing to part with Betances, and I could be swayed with both Montero (who appears to be persona non grata with the Yankees) and Banuelos. I'd be incredibly hesitant to deal more than one, however. As it stands, I'd be open to something like Betances, Noesi, Romine, and Joseph.