DENVER, CO - : Starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez #38 of the Colorado Rockies delviers against the Milwaukee Brewers at Coors Field. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Rumors have the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, and the Texas Rangers interested in Ubaldo Jimenez. Why, oh why, would the Rockies even think about trading him?
Ubaldo Jimenez ...
... will make $4.2 million in 2012
... has a club option for $5.75 million in 2013
... has a club option for $8 million in 2014
Look at those numbers. Replace the words "club option" with "guaranteed contract," and it's still one of the most team-friendly contracts in baseball. Add in the team option part, and it's a ridiculous steal. If the unthinkable happens, if Ubaldo gets mauled by a direwolf or suffers some horrific sausage-grinding accident, the Rockies can simply buy out 2013 or 2014 for $1 million. No long-term risk, all short-term reward.
When it comes to risk, reward, and expected production, Ubaldo Jimenez might have the best contract of any pitcher in baseball.
And then there's the state of the Rockies. They've committed $237 million to two players, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. The idea is that those two players will be the faces of the franchise forever and ever and ever, but it's also that they'll help the Rockies compete now. Trading Ubaldo for prospects would be a setback to the Rockies' ability to compete in 2012, which puts a hold on what the Rockies expect from that quarter-billion dollar commitment. They're not on pace for a 90-loss season. They should think about licking their wounds in 2011, but still look for a way to contend in 2012. The core is strong.
Why, why, why would the Rockies even think about trading Ubaldo Jimenez right now? There are only two reasons:
- the Rockies want to see if another team will trip over themselves to make a ludicrous package of young players
- secret Rockies MRI rays have found a tear in Ubaldo's rotator cuff, and the team knows his time as an effective pitcher is limited
The first point is known as the Jeff Sullivan Principle, which states that every GM has to at least listen when another GM calls. If Brian Cashman wants to offer Jesus Montero, Robinson Cano, and Phil Hughes for Ubaldo, that'd be just fine by O'Dowd. He'll listen. He has to. That's his job. And if O'Dowd doesn't like what another GM has to offer, he can hang up, and possibly sign the other GM up for magazines he doesn't want.
Also, think about it from the Yankees' perspective. They would have to pay a crazy amount to get Ubaldo. They'd have to travel back in time, kidnap a 23-year-old Don Mattingly -- and maybe a young Kevin Mass! -- in order to get the right-hander. Jesus Montero would be but a start of a package. What would the Yankees get? Some sort of robo-Roy Halladay? Nope, they'd get a pitcher who had blister problems early in the season, a guy with an ERA over 4.00 and decreased velocity.
Jimenez has been pitching much better as of late, but he's not Randy Johnson in 1998; there are still questions about him. The Rockies can deal with those questions because they already have him and he's cheap. Any other team would have to empty the farm to get him, and if he's traded, he can void the 2014 team option. So what makes him especially valuable to the Rockies wouldn't make him especially valuable to the Yankees or another team.
Rumors are fun. Keep them coming! But Ubaldo Jimenez isn't getting traded unless another team overwhelms the Rockies. And overwhelm doesn't fully give an idea of how much it would take. It's silly season for rumors, but this is one of the silliest ones you'll read this year.