With just over a day left before Major League Baseball's trade deadline, the Cleveland Indians acquired Colorado Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez in exchange for four minor league prospects.
Jimenez, one of 2010's breakout stars and the third place finisher for the 2010 National League Cy Young Award, was pulled from his Saturday night start and will soon join the American League Central-contending Cleveland Indians. In exchange for Jimenez, the Rockies will receive minor leaguers Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Matt McBride, and Joseph Gardner. Jimenez is signed through the end of the 2012 MLB season, with club options for 2013 and 2014 (source: MLB Trade Rumors).
Jimenez was baseball's best pitcher early in the 2010 season and was the NL starter in the All-Star Game as a result of his 15-1 win-loss record and 2.20 ERA during last year's first half. He won just four games after that but finished the year with a 2.88 ERA and 214 strikeouts in 221 2/3 innings. This year, Jimenez has struggled at times but, prior to Saturday, had a 4.20 ERA and 116 strikeouts against 47 walks in 122 innings. Despite his down numbers, Jimenez is just 27 years old and possesses ace-like stuff, so his addition could be a big boost to a Cleveland team trying to gain ground in the AL Central. He'll join an Indians squad that has had surprisingly solid seasons from Justin Masterson and Josh Tomlin but hasn't been able to find reliably good pitching for the other rotation spots.
In return for Jimenez, Colorado acquired four players who could be components for future success. Alex White, a 22 year-old righthander, has made three starts for the big club this season and was Cleveland's number two prospect entering this season, according to Baseball America. The North Carolina native has a 2.37 ERA in 174 1/3 career minor league innings and has all the makings of a reliable big league starter. His fastball sits in the low nineties but has good movement, and his off-speed pitches have sinking action, and all that bodes well for his chances to keep major league hitters from taking him deep. He has been on the Indians disabled list with a middle finger injury since May 21st, but he could enter 2012 as a rotation option for the Rockies.
Drew Pomeranz, Cleveland's top pick and the fifth overall selection out of Mississippi in the 2010 amateur draft, will also head to Colorado, though due to rules surrounding his signing in August of last year he will not join the organization until next month. Pomeranz, a lefthander, has impressed in his minor league time and has quickly advanced to Double-A ball. In a combined 91 innings of minor league work (18 games, all starts) this year, Pomeranz has a 1.98 ERA and 112 strikeouts, with just 66 hits allowed. The 22 year-old isn't far from making the majors and could be an impact pitcher in the very near future.
Matt McBride was drafted as a catcher in the second round of the 2006 amateur draft and has slowly climbed through the Indians minor league system. During that time, he has played both first base and the outfield along with his original catcher position. The 26 year-old is not looked at as a top-tier prospect, but he has flashed home run power and has 15 total home runs for Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus this season. He could be a valuable and versatile big leaguer at some point.
Joseph Gardner is a 23 year-old righthanded pitcher who was drafted in the third round of the 2009 amateur draft and, prior to 2011, had some of the most impressive numbers of any hurler in the Indians system. This year, though, Gardner has struggled in adjusting to play at Double-A and has posted a 7-8 record and a 4.99 ERA in 19 starts for Akron. The UC-Santa Barbara product may develop into a solid major leaguer at some point, but there are definitely improvements that need to be made.
From a fantasy standpoint, the only significant player is Jimenez, who will leave the struggling Rockies and join a winning team. He may have trouble in facing AL clubs and lineups with an everyday designated hitter slot, but joining a contender could boost his win totals and might motivate him to have better outings. AL-only leagues will likely have bidding wars for his services, despite his somewhat lackluster performance thus far this season.
Overall, Colorado got a pretty nice return for their ace, and a motivated Jimenez pitching at his best could help propel the Indians into the post-season.