The Great Rockie Robbery: Trading Ubaldo Jimenez

One of the best perks of living in New York is the constant comedy that WFAN radio callers provide. Some New Yorkers live to call the station and propose ridiculous trades in hopes that their favorite team can obtain the best talent in the league for pennies on the dollar. This uniformed breed - commonly known as Yankee fans - can concoct mind-numbing  scenarios. So, when I accidentally tuned in and heard several variations of Ubaldo Jimenez to the Yankees, I dismissed it out of hand. But, yesterday I read a John Heyman report that immediately gave this rumor far more creditably than the typical dreck that pollutes New York's airwaves.

While it is fashionable to suggest that the Yankees could acquire Ubaldo Jimenez for package centered around top prospect Jesus Montero, however it seems the "catcher" will not be enough. Heyman reports that GM Dan O'Dowd is looking package  comparable to the storied Hershel Walker trade that took place in the NFL between the Vikings and the Cowboys. The Vikings traded 5 players and 6 draft picks for the running back and the fan base still cringes at the thought of "The Great Train Robbery".

Dementia would have to set in before Brian Cashman seriously considered offering a comparable package, but obviously any package must exceed Ubaldo's value to the his current club.

Ubaldo50_medium

This is one look - a very rough look[1] - at what Ubaldo Jimenez's value is to the Rockies for the rest of his contract. In his career year last season the right hander earned 7.2 rWAR which was preceded by a 5.1 rWAR campaign in 2009. Much ink has been split on Jimenez's difficult start to this season, but he still managed a 1.9 rWAR in the first half. Anyway, with this projection all I am aiming for is reasonableness. Neither overly optimistic nor doom and gloom. Certainly, the Rockies aren't going to value him much less than this.[2]. As the projection gets further into the future, each year is discounted .5 rWAR to attempt account for uncertainties.

Though, Ubadlo has been shaky this season so I've cobbled together a 25% projection as well.[3]. 

Ubaldo25_medium

Again, remember that we must look at Jimenez's value from the Rockies' perspective. Given his team friendly contract and - by his standards - underwhelming performance the team has no reason to move him without meeting the higher threshold illustraded above in the 50% projection. Then why show the 25% projection? Because it illustrates how great this contract is for the Rockies.

General Manager Dan O'Dowd is at best paying $1 million per rWAR, 17% of the current market value(edit). At worst he is paying $2 million per rWAR or 33% of the current market value(edit). Let us not hastily forget that if Jimenez fails to meet the 25% projection for any reason his savvy GM can buyout the right hander's option in either 2013 or 2014 for just $1 million dollar.

Hopefully I don't have to shout from atop my roof for New York's radio pundits to see that the 27-year-old has arguably the most team friendly pitching contract in the game.[4].

For some reason Yankee fans insist on beginning negotiations with top prospect Jesus Montero. In this situation, color me unimpressed. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of Jesus Montero but he isn't a great fit in the National League. It isn't hard to argue that the Yankees actions have spoken louder than their words. They clearly don't believe Montero is a long term solution at catcher, as they are still running out Russell Martin on a daily basis while the young catcher sulks at AAA.[5]. Last I checked, the Designated Hitter has yet to make it the National League.

A few years ago Sky Kalkman published a fantastic chart here at Beyond the Boxscore detailing the value prospects. Since some time has past since then, I figured I'd repost it with a small inflation adjustment.

Ranking

Value

Top 10 hitting

$40.2

Top 11-25 hitters

$27.6

Top 26-50 hitters

$25.7

Top 51-75 hitters

$15.6

Top 76-100 hitters

$13.8

Top 10 pitchers

$16.7

Top 11-25 pitchers

$17.5

Top 26-50 pitchers

$17.5

Top 51-75 pitchers

$13.3

Top 76-100 pitchers

$10.8

Grade B pitcher

$8.0

Grade B hitters

$6.1

Grade C pitchers 22 or younger

$2.3

Grade C pitchers 23 or older

$1.7

Grade C hitters 22 or younger

$0.8

Grade C hitters 23 or older

$0.6

 

Applying these figures to Yankees' prospects Jesus Montero, Dellin Betances, and Manny Banuelos, it is easy to see the trio only shouldn't enough to get Ubaldo Jimenez.[6].

Prospect Value

Name (JD's Rank)

Ranking

Val (M)

Jesus Montero (22)

Top 11-25 hitters

$27.6

Dellin Betances (71)

Top 51-75 pitchers

$13.3

Manny Banuelos (36)

Top 26-50 pitchers

$17.5

Total

$58.4

 

While it may cost a great amount to meet the Rockies demands, that doesn't mean the Yankees should meet said threshold. Most teams would balk at the idea of trading this much high upside talent for one player. Given Ubaldo's struggles so far this season, it would be entirely reasonable for Brian Cashman to spread his risk among three players rather than one. Even so, if Cashman is really interested in acquiring the Rockies' ace, he could get creative and acquire a few bad assets to save his farm system. O'Dowd's roster does not have many contracts polluting his organization, but he does have some funds tied up in Aaron Cook and several relief pitchers that he probably wouldn't mind moving.

 This isn't a damnation of the Yankees' prospects, as I'm quite eager to write about them this off season. However, acquiring a front of the rotation starter with an insanely team friendly contract is costly, even for the Yankees.

JD Sussman is full time law student and co-founder of Bullpen BanterHe can be reached at JDSussman@bullpenbanter.com or via twitter.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

[1] WAR as a concept is fantastic, but all of the current applications leave something to be desired.

[2] It is easy to question the Rockies' motives here. Why would they show their ace unless they knew something was wrong? I can't remember where (probably twitter) but I read that O'Dowd is the type of GM who will talk about any of his players just to gather information from his opponent. Sounds like intelligent to me.

[3]When evaluating players, I shudder at the terms ceiling and floor because they read as absolutes.  Due to my lack of creativity I use the terms 75% projection and 25% instead. A 25% projection is a reasonable worst case scenario baring major injury. A 75% is a reasonable best case scenario. Don't forget  a player can also exceed expectations or come up short. These numbers are specifically meant to allude to that notion.

[4] The only comparable contract that I can think of off the top of my head is John Lester.

[5] Martin is a fantastic defender. And that is the end of nice things I can say about his abilities.

[6] Using the most optimistic rankings of these players the value of the package closer, but ultimately still well short. Still, given the move to the NL, I can't see the Rockies valuing Montero that highly.

Prospect Value

Name (JD's Rank)

Ranking

Val (M)

Jesus Montero

Top 10 hitting

$40.2

Dellin Betances

Top 11-25 pitchers

$17.5

Manny Banuelos

Top 11-25 pitchers

$17.5

Total

$75.1

 

Final Note: I used $5.9 million per rWAR which is an 18% increase from $5.0 million per fWAR. 

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