The Yankees were one of 17 teams in Denver on Thursday night to watch Ubaldo Jimenez pitch.
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…
“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.
So Jimenez is available, but he won’t be coming cheaply. The Yankees have been very against involving any of their top three prospects in deals, for a top of the line starter though they might change their tune.
The big question is, is he worth it? Earlier in the week Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues discussed the possibility of landing Jimenez from the Rockies and determined that a deal for him could be similar to the one that sent Dan Haren from the A’s to the Diamondbacks a few years ago. In that deal the A’s netted themselves six prospects including Carlos Gonzalez so it seems that any deal involving the Yankees and Jimenez would include at least one, probably two, of their top three prospects and then other top prospects in the organization as well.
Again though, is it worth it? Jimenez is clearly an amazing talent, going 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA in Colorado of all places last season. His numbers have dropped this year though and his track record hasn’t been long enough to this date to consider him a can’t miss front of the rotation guy. On top of that his velocity has taken quite a fall this season from a year ago, perhaps a sign that last season put a lot of stress on his arm.
His strikeout and walk rates are at their career levels though and his FIP and xFIP are right in line with his career totals even though his ERA isn’t, so perhaps it’s a bit of bad luck. Still, the loss of velocity, although not tremendous, is alarming. Any deal for Jimenez is going to sting, to say the least, the farm system. It’s hard to imagine dealing a large portion of the team’s best prospects for a guy who isn’t even 100 percent healthy.
At the same time this may be just the type of pitcher that Brian Cashman has been waiting to become available on the trade market. With no big name starters expected to hit the free agent market until at least 2013 this may be the time the Yankees have to pounce.
Is it worth it? Hard to say, but if they can swing a deal without giving up Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos they shouldn’t hesitate at all. If one of them has to go, it might be hard, but depending on the other prospects the trigger might have to be pulled. If both go, then the Yankees should hold up. If both are gone and Jimenez turns out to be A.J. Burnett then the Yankees are just screwing themselves.
Either way a deal for Jimenez is going to sting and sting bad and would likely change the face of the Yankees farm system. Personally I feel like the Yankees certainly should try diligently to work out a deal, but they shouldn’t force it. Jimenez just doesn’t have the track record to go all in.