As our Transaction Tracker shows, the Rockies and Indians have gotten together for a number of trades throughout the years, but none were more significant than yesterday's Ubaldo Jimenez swap. Colorado acquired four young players in exchange for the greatest pitcher in franchise history (by WAR), and as Troy Renck of The Denver Post explains, a number of factors contributed to the team's decision to trade Jimenez.
First and foremost was performance. Ubaldo has pitched to a 3.98 ERA in 203 1/3 innings over the last calendar year, which is very good put not what the Rockies had come to expect from him. Jimenez's fastball velocity has dropped noticably this season, another factor. The team's recent whiffs in the draft, including failed first rounders Greg Reynolds (2006) and Casey Weathers (2007), took away from their depth, also contributing to the trade. GM Dan O'Dowd was much more diplomatic when asked about why they made the decision to part ways with Jimenez...
"This isn't rebuilding, this is restocking," said O'Dowd to Renck. "Even if we were 10 games up instead of 10 games back, it would have been hard to say no to this deal ... We felt to maximize [Jimenez's] value, this was the time to do it. The closer he got to free agency, you would see a falloff in what clubs would offer."
As for the Indians, it's easy to understand why they'd want to add a 27-year-old pitcher with Ubaldo's credentials. Team president Mark Shapiro took to Twitter to explain their end of the trade, saying it was a "rare [and] unique [opportunity] to acquire [a front] of [the] rotation [starter with] multiple [years] of control." He added that Jimenez's contract aligns with some of their best players, "giving us a multi [year opportunity] to field teams we feel can contend."
As Cot's Baseball Contract shows, the Tribe controls their top three starters (Jimenez, Fausto Carmona, and Justin Masterson) through 2013. Travis Hafner, Shin-Soo Choo, and Asdrubal Cabrera will also be under team control through that season. Ubaldo will make his Indians' debut on Friday against the Rangers as Cleveland remains 2.5 games back of the Tigers in the AL Central heading into tonight.