Ubaldo Jimenez Rumors
The Indians have overhauled their roster via free agency this season, adding the likes of Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, Brett Myers and Mark Reynolds on Major League deals while bringing in notable veterans such as Matt Capps and Daisuke Matsuzaka on minor league pacts. At the 2011 Trade Deadline, however, the Tribe addressed its biggest needs in a different manner, dealing a package of four prospects to the Rockies in exchange for then-ace Ubaldo Jimenez.
Cleveland traded right-hander Alex White (22 years old at the time), first baseman Matt McBride (26 at the time), righty Joe Gardner (23 at the time) and lefty Drew Pomeranz (22 at the time) to Colorado in exchange for Jimenez, who had at least two and a half years of team control remaining on a low-cost contract. It was a steep price to pay, as Pomeranz and White represented the Indians' first-round picks from the previous two drafts. Gardner, meanwhile, had entered the season as Cleveland's No. 9 prospect, according to Baseball America.
The Major League Side
- Ubaldo Jimenez: To say Jimenez has been a disappointment in Cleveland would be putting things lightly. In 242 innings with the Indians, Jimenez has a 5.32 ERA, 7.6 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9. He entered 2012 with a career ground-ball rate near 50 percent, but saw that mark plummet to 38.4 percent last year. His once-blazing fastball has dropped from an average of 96.1 mph from 2009-10 to just 92.5 mph in 2012. His 4.8 BB/9 last season was a career-worst, and he led the American League in both losses (17) and wild pitches (16). In spite of all that, Indians GM Chris Antonetti exercised the team's $5.75MM club option on Jimenez this past offseason in hopes that he can rebound to something in the vicinity of the ace-caliber pitcher he once was. Jimenez is just 29 years of age still, and the price was right for Cleveland to give him another shot. His performance in 2013 will be one of they key factors in Cleveland's fate as their revamped roster makes a run at dethroning the reigning AL Central champion Tigers.
- Drew Pomeranz: Pomeranz has a 5.01 ERA in 115 big league innings for the Rockies. His 1.9 K/BB ratio isn't exactly inspiring, but he was significantly better in a small minor league sample last season. Pomeranz posted a 2.31 ERA, 8.9 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 50 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A (46 2/3 of which were at Triple-A). He's still just 24 years old and is one year removed from entering the season as BA's No. 30 overall prospect and MLB.com's No. 24 ranked prospect. His fastball was down to averaging 91.2 mph season after previously sitting several ticks higher, but BA noted prior to 2012 that his ability to keep the pitch down in the zone and his deceptive delivery allowed the pitch to play at lower velocity. If Pomeranz can regain some of his velocity and/or hone his command of the strike zone, there's still time for him to blossom into the No. 2 starter BA and MLB.com projected him to be.
- Alex White: Like Pomeranz, White struggled greatly in his Major League time with the Rockies. He posted an unsightly 6.30 ERA in 134 1/3 innings for the Rox from 2011-12. His marks of 5.9 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 were significantly worse than his Triple-A rates of 7.8 and 3.0, respectively. White put the ball on the ground frequently in 2012 (54.1 percent) but lost more than a mile per hour off his fastball, dropping to a 91.2 mph average (identical to Pomeranz's, oddly enough). White was injured at the time of the trade and missed 82 games in the 2011 season with a strained ligament in his finger. How much that impacted his 2012 results remains to be seen, but he'll have a chance to prove he's worthy of a spot in a Major League rotation. It won't be with the Rockies, however, as the team traded White to the Astros along with Alex Gillingham to acquire ace setup man Wilton Lopez.
The Prospect Side
- Joe Gardner: Gardner ranked as Colorado's No. 25 prospect prior to the 2012 season but dropped off the club's Top 30 list this year. He ranks 18th among Rockies' farmhands according to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, however, who calls Gardner's sinking fastball a "groundball machine" and notes that his change-up has some deception that leads to swings and misses. He also features a "slurvy" slider that Mayo grades out to be slightly better than his change but worse than his fastball. Gardner worked primarily as a starter at the Double-A level, but Mayo notes that he was very sharp in a five-appearance bullpen cameo. In total, Gardner compiled a 3.97 ERA, 6.4 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 138 1/3 innings during his age-24 season. Today is his 25th birthday (Happy birthday, Joe!), and should have a chance to crack the big league roster this season with a strong minor league performance.
- Matt McBride: McBride is currently Colorado's 33rd best prospect, according to BA, though they note that most of his value comes as a utility player due to the fact that he can play catcher on occasion. BA notes that he's a poor defender whether behind the plate, in right field or at first base, and that his ability to make frequent contact is accompanied by a lack of home run power. McBride hit .205/.222/.308 in 81 plate appearances for the Rockies last season, walking only once and whiffing 17 times. He did manage a .344/.365/.535 triple slash line at Triple-A. Still, at 27 years of age, he's not much of a prospect at this point, which was reflected in Colorado's decision to remove him from the 40-man roster in November.
That Joe Gardner and Matt McBride posted the best 2012 numbers of anyone involved in this trade is a telling sign. To be blunt, the deal currently doesn't look good for either side. A rebound campaign for Jimenez or a breakout from Pomeranz would alter that, but surely both teams had visions of aces in their minds when pulling the trigger on this deal -- not a host of 5.00+ ERAs. Colorado picked up some value in flipping White for a strong bullpen arm with three years of team control remaining, though that could prove regrettable if White puts it all together as an Astro. For the time being, three teams are simply left hoping that they can squeeze some value out of the once highly regarded talent in this deal.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Indians have been very busy during the first days of 2013 officially announcing the free agent signings of Nick Swisher and Brett Myers. MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports the team will open the season with a payroll hovering around $66-68MM (not including the $2.75MM buyout of Travis Hafner's 2013 club option and the $3.5MM sent to the Reds in the Shin-Soo Choo trade). As a result, GM Chris Antonetti has said the team's financial resources have been exhausted. The lone remaining hole in the lineup is designated hitter. Bastian says the Tribe could rely on internal options like Mike Aviles, Yan Gomes, Ezequiel Carrera, Tim Fedroff, and Rule 5 selection Chris McGuiness. Even bringing back Hafner is a possibility according to Antonetti, "I think some of that is going to depend upon other opportunities for Travis and his thoughts on returning, as well as what opportunities we may have for him compared to other guys." Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has more news and notes concerning the Indians:
- Hoynes adds Matt LaPorta to the list of in-house DH options, but says Antonetti could still sign a hitter or bring one in on a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training.
- Hoynes thinks Delmon Young would look good as the Tribe's DH, but doesn't see it happening at this time because of his asking price and character issues.
- The Indians will still consider trading Asdrubal Cabrera or Chris Perez, but only if the return is comparable to what they received in the Choo deal.
- The starting rotation looks like Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Myers, and Zach McAllister. Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco are the leading candidates for the fifth spot.
- With the flush of spending of this season, does this put extra pressure on the front office to win now? Hoynes doesn't sense any panic in the hallways of power, especially since new manager Terry Francona can opt-out of his deal if certain members of management lose their jobs.
There's arguably no better shortstop available via free agency or trade than Asdrubal Cabrera, and the Indians' asking price reflects that reality. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer writes that the Tribe is looking to get three-to-four prospects in exchange for their 27-year-old shortstop -- preferably four.
Hoynes writes that the Indians had a deal in place to acquire a Major League pitcher and two high-level prospects for Cabrera. That trade fell through when Cleveland asked that a third prospect be included in the package. The potential acquiring team would have switched Cabrera's position, for those who would like to play the speculation game.
Cabrera has two years and a total of $16.5MM remaining on his contract. Over the past two seasons, Cabrera has batted .272/.335/.443 with 41 home runs and 26 stolen bases.
In addition to Cabrera, Justin Masterson, Chris Perez and Shin-Soo Choo are drawing interest. The asking price on Perez is substantially lower than Cabrera's, one scout told Hoynes. Like Cabrera, Perez has two years of team control left. He's arbitration eligible for the third time as a Super Two player this offseason, and Matt Swartz has him projected at $7.2MM.
Hoynes notes that the Padres have called regarding both Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez. Masterson can become a free agent after the 2014 season and is projected to earn $5.7MM in arbitration this season. The Indians picked up Jimenez's $5.75MM option this offseason despite a dreadful season and drastically reduced fastball velocity. The Padres are likely attracted to Jimenez's durability and hopeful that a return to the NL West can help restore his numbers.
Jimenez, 28, will earn $5.75MM next season after pitching to a 5.40 ERA in 31 starts and 176 2/3 innings last year. Given his track record and age, it's a worthy gamble. The 35-year-old Hafner hit .228/.346/.438 in 263 plate appearances this year, and will receive a $2.75MM buyout instead of a $13MM salary. Hernandez, 32, allowed 15 runs in 14 1/3 innings across three starts this year. His option was worth $6MM.
As the World Series shifts to Comerica Park for tomorrow's Game Three, here's the latest from around the AL Central....
- The Royals' waiver claim pickup of Chris Volstad could be a sign of how the team plans to take a low-cost approach to upgrading its pitching staff, writes Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. Royals GM Dayton Moore said free agents "won’t be a long-term answer for us” because the club hopes to have homegrown pitching prospects in the rotation by 2014. “We’ve got to look internally,” Moore said. “We’ve got to look through trades. We’ve got to look, certainly, through free agency…we might be able to pick off a player or two, but we’re not going to build our team through free agency. It won’t work.”
- Given the Indians' need for pitching and the cost of acquiring new starters, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian believes the team won't deal starter Justin Masterson (Twitter link). The groundball specialist has been rumored to be on the trade market following a disappointing 2012 season.
- Travis Hafner's $13MM team option for 2013 is a sure bet to be bought out by the Indians, tweets Bastian, while the Tribe will likely also decline Roberto Hernandez's $6MM club option. Ubaldo Jimenez's $5.75MM club option for next season is "expected" to be picked up. Bastian thinks it's "hard to believe" that the Indians would re-sign the injury-plagued Grady Sizemore as a free agent.
- The White Sox face four difficult option decisions on Jake Peavy, Kevin Youkilis, Gavin Floyd and Brett Myers, writes Paul Swydan for ESPN (Insider subscription required). Swydan opines that Floyd is a more proven rotation candidate than Myers and "if only one option of the two is picked up, it should be Floyd's," while Youkilis could be a good candidate to be retained given Chicago's lack of depth at third base. Peavy's $22MM option "is difficult to justify" given his injury history, though Swydan notes that Peavy provided close to $20MM worth of value during his healthy 2012 season.
- In other White Sox news, Hahn discussed Peavy's option and more in his introductory press conference as the club's new general manager.
It was on this day in 1952 that the Indians used a record 23 players in a game against the Washington Senators. Despite using nearly their entire roster, the Indians still lost, 7-6, on Pete Runnels' walkoff single in the bottom of the ninth.
Here's the latest from Cleveland...
- Jose Lopez has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A, tweets MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. Lopez was designated for assignment on Tuesday so the Tribe could create a roster space for Johnny Damon.
- "Keep in mind, there was risk on both sides of the deal," Indians president Mark Shapiro said to Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer when discussing last year's trade with the Rockies that brought Ubaldo Jimenez to the Tribe. "It's often like that when you trade a lot of pitchers, but they do get hurt [more often than position players]." Shapiro and GM Chris Antonetti both feel it's much too early to evaluate the trade, but Pluto feels the early returns don't favor the Indians thanks to Jimenez's struggles and mechanical issues.
- You can keep up on all of MLBTR's Indians coverage on our Tribe-centric Facebook page, Twitter and RSS feeds.
The latest rumors from Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (all links go to Twitter)...
- The Tigers have tried hard to interest the Phillies in Brandon Inge without much success. Inge offers steady defense at third and has been learning second base this spring, but he earns $5.5MM in 2012.
- The Phillies tried to re-acquire utility player Jason Donald from the Indians, but Cleveland preferred to keep him. The Phillies drafted Donald in 2006 and sent him to Cleveland in the 2009 Cliff Lee trade.
- Teams inquired on Ubaldo Jimenez this spring, but the Indians don’t have interest in moving him, either.
- Scouts are watching Diamondbacks left-hander Mike Zagurski, since there’s a sense the Diamondbacks might trade him.
- Michael Wuertz threw for 15 teams today, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.
- Roy Oswalt doesn’t expect to pitch in the Major Leagues before June, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. The Cardinals have uncertainty atop their rotation and other openings could emerge around the league, but the free agent right-hander seems content to wait for now.
- Ubaldo Jimenez explained to Yahoo's Jeff Passan that the disappointing ending to his tenure in Colorado wasn't related to money. “It’s not about the contract,” Jimenez said. “People are going to say that. They know what it is.” The Indians are optimistic that Jimenez will put together a healthy season reminiscent of his breakout 2010 campaign.
- Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said Daisuke Matsuzaka could join the rotation by early June, according to MLB.com's Ian Browne. The right-hander is recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Here's a look at some items out of the National League West..
- The Giants offered Tim Lincecum at least $100MM over five years a couple months back, but it now it appears that the two sides are at least $75MM apart, with the right-hander looking for a seven- or eight-year deal, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
- Jeff Moorad has withdrawn his application to be the controlling partner of the Padres, meaning that John Moores will own the team for the foreseeable future, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
- Tom Krasovic of Inside The Padres runs down the particulars of what this means for the future of the club. Moorad will remain the Vice Chairman and CEO of the Padres while Moores will remain the majority owner of the team as he has since 1994-95. Krasovic also writes that MLB is likely to approve the 20-year TV deal between the Padres and FOX.
- Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez don't exactly see eye-to-eye with former teammate Ubaldo Jimenez on his dissatisfaction with the Rockies, writes Scott Miller of CBSSports.com. The pitcher said that he was upset with the club in part because Tulowitzski and Gonzalez received lucrative new deals following the 2010 season while he did not.
Items out of the AL and NL West..
- The Athletics released a statement this afternoon regarding recent reports that MLB might not allow the club to move to San Jose due to the Giants' territorial rights. The A's point out that out of "the four two-team markets in MLB, only the Giants and A's do not share the exact same geographic boundaries." The statement also emphasizes that a move to San Jose would benefit other owners when it comes to revenue sharing.
- For the first time, Ubaldo Jimenez openly admitted that he wanted to be traded from the Rockies, writes Tracy Ringolsby of FOXSportsArizona.com. The pitcher watched Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez sign long-term contracts with the club and felt as though he had been put on hold. Jimenez was looking for a trade this time last year but wasn't dealt until July 30th.
- There was some buzz about Felix Hernandez's favorable comments regarding his future in Seattle beyond 2014, but Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times cautions not to read too far into them. Hernandez signed a five-year, $78MM deal prior to the 2010 season and Baker writes that there are no immediate plans to put another deal in front of the ace.