Shields or Ubaldo?

These two charts show what their values are if they are establishing new levels of production. Shields takes the lead, but it’s not by nearly as much as the last scenario (Edit: It’s much closer now, if not dead-even, but this scenario seems the least likely of the three). The value of Jimenez’s contract is pretty overwhelming. Shields’ contract is getting past the point of being a huge bargain, though it is still a bargain, but Jimenez’s is a massive bargain.


These two charts are if the two go back to being what they were before this season, which I think is the second-most likely scenario. Both seasons could be blips, and it’s possible that either player could just go back to being what they were. In this scenario, Jimenez lays waste to Shields (Edit: Still does, just slightly less so).

As I said, lots of things could happen. That’s the hard part of being a general manager, but I wanted to quantify it a little for you to see their values to illustrate a few important points. One, Jimenez’s contract is a real value, and if you think the Rockies simply need to dump him, you’re insane. Two, Shields’ contract is no longer a big bargain, and it’s the reason the Rays are even considering trading Shields. Three, Jimenez had been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the past two seasons, and we shouldn’t assume that he can no longer be that pitcher. Four, I haven’t even accounted for added playoff value when it comes to the value needed in prospects (I’ll get to that in a minute), but they would probably add a similar amount in value this season. Five, I didn’t modify Jimenez’s stats for the AL, but I wasn’t terribly sure how much I should take off, though I don’t think it’s near enough to make up for the difference.

So now, we look at the Yankees. They obviously need starting pitching, or at least covet it, and they have the prospects to get either pitcher if they choose. For looking at the needed prospects, we’ll use the first scenario as a starting point. Starting with Shields, Victor Wang’s research says that a top 10 hitter would take up $36.5 M of Shields’ $40 M value, and that could be Montero, who would play first or DH for the Rays. A B prospect (Banuelos, Nova, Warren, Heathcott) would finish off the difference, but the Rays may want another guy considering the division (Edit: Those prospects would near completing the difference, but the quality of that third player just went up to another one of those B prospects). Jimenez’s value nears $70 M. If the Yankees gave the Rockies the reported Montero (36.5), Betances (12.5), Banuelos (12.5), and Nova (7.3) deal, that would total what would be needed to total $68-70 M. It’s not an unfair trade at all.

The question you have to ask now is if either pitcher is worth it. While pitchers have a chance to get injured, prospects do as well along with the chance to flame out. Both of these pitchers are essentially guaranteed to be front-of-the-rotation good while they’re on the mound. Guaranteed production goes a long way, and neither has such a terrible contract to hurt the Yankees payroll severely. But do you want to pay that price?

29 thoughts on “Shields or Ubaldo?

  1. fubar

    I feel like Ron Burgandy at the bear pit at the end of Anchorman when he has to decide between saving Veronica or reporting the biggest story of his life. Both pitchers have major pluses, and both have serious questions. To quote Ron, This is hard. But Ubaldo has the biggest upside, and while I hesitate to sell the farm for him, I'd be more comfortable sending Montero and one of the Bs to Denver than Tampa Bay, where they could torture the Yanks for years to come. Basically the biggest story
    of my career, launching me to a level I've never known before, or saving the woman I used to have
    familiar relations with. This is hard.

    • Mark Smith

      Well put.

  2. Chip

    According to multiple reports I have read, Jimenez's 2014 option can be voided if he is traded, which changes this analysis significantly:
    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/jon

    • Mark Smith

      It does change things. That's $24 M of value that gets cut off, but I'm guessing the trading team would just have to offer a few million dollars to make sure he stayed.

  3. Dave

    Don't trade for Shields, please. Unless it's a three way trade, with the prospects going to a different team. If we give the Rays Montero and Banuelos…well, the way the universe works, Montero will be a perennial MVP candidate and Banuelos will be a Cy Young winner at the age of 23. In our division. No thanks.

    • BrienJackson

      While we're proposing trades to Tampa Bay, I'd be really interested to see if they'd be open to a Montero-for-Matt Moore swap.

      • Dave

        I'd be thrilled with that, and one would think the Rays would too with a wealth of pitching and in desperate need of offense. That said, Moore is now ranked as the top pitching prospect in baseball by Keith Law after the Futures Game and Montero is having a down year.

        • BrienJackson

          Yeah, I don't think it's realistic now that Moore looks like he's set to be a VERY good pitcher, but in principle it makes sense as far as prospect-for-prospect swaps go. It's easier for the Yankees to buy bats, and the Rays could use a potentially elite young bat in their system.

          • Mark Smith

            I think it depends on how the Rays view Montero's season. If they still think he's an elite bat, then I think they *have* to do it. If they think he's taken a step back or is stagnating, the choice becomes less clear.

      • That's an interesting idea. I would do that if I were the Yankees. Seems mutually beneficial to me given both teams areas of need.

        • Mark Smith

          It is an interesting idea, but I doubt either team would do it. Challenge trades don't happen too often.

      • Dave

        Hope Cashman reads the comments on this blog…

        • Mark Smith

          If he does, then he should know that I would a love a job … :)

      • dar34

        That is a trade that I jump on.

        In all of these trades being discussed, Montero is the easiest for me to trade. He is, as has been discussed here, essentially blocked unless they are willing to let him catch. And, of course Moore looks awesome.

  4. Nice post Mark. I don't think the Rays will trade with the Yankees, but Shields would definitely be nice.

    Did you ever trend on twitter?

    • Mark Smith

      It would take a little more from the Yankees than anyone else, but I think the Rays would take the best offer if it was above their threshold of what they need for Shields.

      And I have not, but we have that chat Thursday night, and we might be able to campaign for that and pie!

      • The pie/cake may have run its course. I have a new debate though: best cheese. We should wait until the chat to discuss that though.

        • Mark Smith

          I'm surprised it stayed around for as long as it did. But I'll veto the cheese thing because I don't have a strong take in that. Ice cream? Pizza? Condiment?

          • I'll debate cheeses all day. I'm coming back in my next life as a fromagier, or however you spell it. Guy who loves cheeses. Me.

        • Check the bio on my twitter handle. "friend of cheeses"

          • Mark Smith

            On that note, I might be a little late to the party tonight, so argue cheese early.

  5. tom

    Jiminez's 2014 option is VOIDED if traded (per Cot's)

    People keep looking this as getting a guy under a long term contract… he's a FA after 2013 and it's "just" 2.5 years of control. He's a slightly longer than normal rental/pre-FA trade. The tables are useless unless you are evaluating a Rockies decision (who are the only team with that 2014 option)

    That extra year makes a world of difference.. whether it's evaluating the sanity of trading four cost controlled players that have 6 years (5 with Nova) against Ubaldo's 2.5 years or factoring in that a trade owuld basically have the entire Yankees rotation hitting FA in 2014 (CC, AJ, Hughes) with no internal talent. Odds on picking up 3-4 FA's to fill out the rotation with possibly only CC under contract? Think about trying to fill out the 4/5 this year… now think about filing out 2-5 one offseason, (unless some or one of Noesi or Phelps or Warren suddenly become frontline startes ;))

    • tom

      Also not sure you can apply Victor Wang's research to Nova at this point… part of Wang's value assessment is the odds that a guy will flame out and not make the major leagues. That is 0 at this point for Nova… while he can blow out his arm tomorrow, that would be assessing the general injury risk of a pitcher (much like what would need to be added to Shields or Jiminez' value assessment, which is lacking) . But at this point we are past the "maybe the guy struggles in AA or AAA and never makes the big league" with Nova.

      The problem as I mentioned on another article, is that the value to the Rockies is 3.5 years as they do have that option… so they want, an should get, 3.5 years worth of Jiminez value back in a trade while the other team should pay for 2.5years of Jiminez

      It seems like most of these articles are out to justify the Jiminez deal… when you lop off 2014 on Jiminez contract and value Nova not as a prospect it really isn't close to being a remotely good deal when comparing it to Jiminez' excess value over the next 2.5 years.

    • tom

      OOPS – that would be Ubaldo, not CC hitting FA in 2014… after this potential trade, CC (assuming the Yankees figure out the opt out/extension this summer) would be the on member of the new rotation not becoming a FA in 2014 (I'm excluding Colon/Garcia)

      Also not sure you can apply Victor Wang's research to Nova at this point… part of Wang's value assessment is the odds that a guy will flame out and not make the major leagues. That is 0 at this point for Nova… while he can blow out his arm tomorrow, that would be assessing the general injury risk of a pitcher (much like what would need to be added to Shields or Jiminez' value assessment, which is lacking) . But at this point we are past the "maybe the guy struggles in AA or AAA and never makes the big league" with Nova.

      The issue is the Rockies do have that extra club option so they want and should get 3.5 years (or more) of Jiminez value in order to make the trade. A trading team is only getting 2.5 years back, and when you consider that, this 4 for 1 deal is absurd from one perspective, somewhat rationale from the Rockies perspective ( I think Nova's value is understated even if you take a conservative estimate thathe merely provides the level of performance he has given this year).

      • tom

        Sorry….. my browser is doing some strange things!

        • Mark Smith

          I think you might be making too big of a deal about voiding the option. Sure, he can, but if the Yankees threw $5 M on top of it, would he turn it down? Sure, it would giving up some money, but A) it would be one year and B) he risks losing money b/c of injury if he turns that down. Plus, Yankees could just restructure the contract, and with the contract so low, it wouldn't be a big deal.

          • tom

            Mark… take a step back… and ask what we know when evaluating this trade (you also clearly are not understanding that 2014 is a club option… so leaving it in, even at a higher contract price, doesn't mitigate any injury risk from Ubaldo's perspective)

            Ubaldo is signed through 2013( if traded).Options in 2014::

            A) Not void the 8mil CLUB option and work at a way undermarket value for his new team. If he gets injured or underperforms with the team prior to then , the club can just decline it and he becomes a FA… so heads Ubaldo loses, tails Ubaldo loses.
            .
            B) Negotiate that number higher (which again is a CLUB option) with the new team.. the only thing this does is lower the amount he potentially gets underpaid in 2014 (but still leaves him with a voided option if he gets injured or underperforms)… Head Ubaldo loses a little less, tails Ubaldo still loses… while this is better than A, if he has the option to void this altogether what wouldn't he?

            C) Restructure the deal to some unknown length at some unknown salary and possibly change the option to a mutual option or a player option or just make it guaranteed. How do you evaluate a trade without having any information on this?

            D) Void the 2014 CLUB option, hit free agency and look for a long term deal at significantly large $$. If he gets injured, the club would have declined the club option anyway so he's in the same boat. If he performas well he gets a lot more money and a lot more years… There is only upside with this and I don't see any downside vs having a club only option (for ANY dollar amount)

            ——–

            Your initial analysis is based on (A). It would be colossally stupid for him to leave a one sided club option in the contract. This has nothing to do with injury risk… If Ubaldo gets injured, the club declines the option. If he underperforms the club declines the option. If he overperforms, the club gets a sweetheart contract year… In what scenario does Ubaldo benefit from leaving in an 8mil CLUB option? (his agent should be fired if he leaves this in after a trade and doesn't void it)

            You are now throwing out (B) and (C) as potential outcomes… except we have no info or rumor to suggest either is even a remote possibility. There are also two other major problems with these new strawman

            1)They both throw your surplus calculations out the window, as the dollars he's getting paid is now changing. (so he has less surplus than your initial assessment)… If you start tacking on 5mil or whatever arbitrary amount you'd like… and that's nearly the value you assign to Nova. If you assume restructuring, why even bother assessing surplus value when we have no clue what those terms might be?
            2) 2014 is a CLUB option so again the idea that Ubaldo might be doing this as some sort of risk aversion theory is out the window… if the Yankees bump up to 13mil or 15mil or even 20 mil and Ubaldo gets hurt or underperfoms…. Yankees decline the CLUB option. Again there is no benefit to retaining a club option vs voiding it.

            (D) is worst case, and I think the most likely. There is no upside and only downside for Ubaldo to keep an 8mil club option (or ANY value club option) in the deal… there simply is no risk mitigation that you seem to be implying. ( I have to think you are confusing this with a mutual or player option, maybe?)

          • Mark Smith

            I meant to add that the contract would be changed to guaranteed years without options, but you do make some very good points. About the contract clause, I misread that initially, and that's my bad. No one would just keep that clause in their because it doesn't favor them at all. If the Yankees, or any team, would want that year, they'd have to guarantee it, which would mitigate the injury risk for Ubaldo. So, the contract clause was my bad, but it doesn't undo everything.

            If you take away the $23 M, that leaves $45 million in surplus value for the first two years, or essentially Shields' value. That's Montero, Banuelos, and B prospect (yes, Nova is in the majors, but he's young enough to essentially be considered a prospect, though not technically. It would be like trading for a AAA guy you planned to insert immediately into the lineup). Now, it also depends on Montero's value. Montero has dropped in some people's eyes (I think it's unfair given that I think most of it is frustration), and if he drops out of the top 10 which he might, his value is back to $25 M and needs Betances thrown back in. While it seems like both pitchers have similar value, Jimenez might have more value because he has the better chance of giving more immediate value.

            I still think the Yankees could find a way to guarantee that year, but yeah, I saw the option clause and thought it was a guarantee and not an opt-out.

          • tom

            2013 is also a club option, so at this point you are no longer simply tacking on a year (which we have no idea if both parties would agree to) and are effectively reworking the entire contract (except for maybe 2012) It gets back to the question of what is the point of doing a surplus analysis if you are going to ignore the current contract and just start plugging in guesses on what you hope might happen.

            Why wouldn't you just do the analysis based on what we know for sure – the remainder of 2011(which for some reason you ignore), 2012, 2013. For Shields it should include 2014 as you know for certain you get that year and you know the price of that year.

            And if you are now willing to consider dinging Montero down to justify having to include the 2nd B under the new #'s, why didn't you bring that concern up in your initial analysis as it would completely change your initial conclusion

            if this is a concern, from a Rockies perspective Montero/Banuelos/Betances/Nova would not be near enough based on your original #'s. If you slap the potential 25mil tag on Montero you now get ~57mil against your original assessment 68-70mil of Jimenez value…So the conclusion then would be the 4 for 1 deal is no longer fair from a Rockies perspective and the Yankees would need to throw in a fairly significant 5th prospect to be a fair deal?

            Not trying to be a jerk but at this point it almost seems as if you are playing with the #'s and assumptions that feed the #'s to justify a conclusion you already have come to.

            Anyway, I'll stop beating a dead horse but your arguments and assumptions are no longer consistent with your initial analysis and if you plug some of these new assumptions in to your old contract assumptions (specifically Montero's new potential value), it would lead to some pretty crazy results.

            I do appreciate you taking the time with the responses.

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