Yankees, Rockies getting closer to a deal?

Ubaldo: A clear upgrade for the Yankees, probably the best target they could acquire before the deadline. He bumps Phil Hughes from the rotation now, and bumps A.J. Burnett out of the playoff rotation. The best insurance policy you could take out on Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia in the short run, and would likely make the Yankees the betting favorite to win the American League this year.

There’s also 2012 to consider. Right now, the Yankees’ 2012 rotation would be C.C. Sabathia, Burnett, Hughes, Nova, and someone else. They could make an attempt to bring back Colon or Garcia, but the most likely scenario is that they would go after C.J. Wilson on the free agent market, which would probably cost them somewhere in the $90-100 million range. So while trading for Ubaldo may require a high cost, not trading for him will as well. It’s just a matter of what method of payment you use.

Montero: Still an elite hitting prospect who’s also ready for the big leagues offensively. He has a lot of value, but his value decreases significantly for the Yankees if he can’t catch, because he’s blocked at first base, and probably wouldn’t be the most efficient use of the designated hitter role either. And at this point, it’s probably a safe bet that he won’t be a catcher at the next level. Trading Montero willy-nilly would be a very unwise move, but at this point there shouldn’t be any trepidation about trading him for a pitcher of Ubaldo’s caliber given both the team’s need and the starting pitching market for the next few seasons.

Nova: There’s no sense even dwelling on this one. Nova is nice pitching depth to be sure and he’s been able to get big league hitters out, but he’s a back end of the rotation starter at best in the most likely scenario, so swapping him for a front of the rotation starter isn’t even a question. If this deal is Montero and Nova for Ubaldo a GM who said “no” to it would be fired on the spot. So the kicker is:

Banuelos or Betances: The Yankees’ two best pitching prospects, who have drawn rave reviews from evaluators, have suddenly become the hot commodities and the ones the Yankees seem most reluctant to deal. Below the surface, however, there’s no reason for the Yankees to be so protective of these assets. Neither is really major league ready, with both in their first full season of Double-A ball, hardly having figured out the Eastern League quite yet. Walks, in particular, have been a problem, and though this is a new issue for Banuelos, it’s just the opposite for Betances, who’s career BB/9 across the minor leagues is 4.3 batters per nine innings, and who has consistently posted walk rates over 4.0.

In other words, while both are good prospects with legitimate value, between their age, distance from the majors, and actual results achieved thus far they’re still far from sure things, and the odds are just as good, or better, that they never develop into quality major league pitchers as they are that they ever develop into even back-end starters.

Obviously I have no idea how solid this information is, and there’s probably a lot of negotiating through the media going on, but Sherman usually has the goods on these stories, so it’s at least a very realistic chance that the Rockies’ demands have come down to something like Montero, Betances, and Nova in exchange for Ubaldo. If that’s the case, the Yankees would be crazy not to make the deal, and I think they probably will sometime late tonight or tomorrow. So while there’s still a good chance nothing happens here, I think I put the odds of Ubaldo being a Yankee within the next 48 hours at about 50-50 right now.

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

9 thoughts on “Yankees, Rockies getting closer to a deal?

  1. hugh

    And at that price, I'd be inclined to agree that it's a good deal. One of those ones that has an even chance of working out well on both sides…

  2. Additional good news: I don't see how the BoSox can put together an equivalent package for Ubaldo and the Tigers, who probably did have the pieces, just traded for Doug Fister, which I take to mean they've dropped out of the Ubaldo sweepstakes.

    The other teams on the rumor mill are Toronto and Cincinnati, both of whom would be acquiring Ubaldo for the future. For exactly that reason, I don't see them beating the Yankees offer.

    The real darkhorse, and I'm reluctant to say it, is Texas. They have a loaded system, with pitching prospects at least as good as Banuelos/Betances, and they could obviously benefit from a frontline starter. They might be waiting in the wings to match whatever the Yankees offer.

    • BrienJackson

      It's really hard to imagine the Red Sox being able to pull off a deal for Ubaldo. That sounds like the Rockies trying to squeeze the Yankees through the press to me.

    • smcsk8

      I think Texas is really focused on the bullpen right now, and trying very hard for Heath Bell. At least, that seems to be what the local TX media is reporting. Feliz hasn't been too good lately, and their rotation is probably solid enough. So it seems that while they are probably monitoring the Ubaldo situation, it's unlikely they are going to get in on it. Especially if they trade for Bell before the day is done (possible).

  3. Michael

    I dont want Banuelos in this deal. Nova is nothing special. Montero is going to hit and i think has more value to us than any other team bc of his swing and our hole at catcher. Betances has been injured and walks people. If we can somehow get them to take Betances, Nova, Romine, and Hughes i would much rather prefer that deal, I just dont think the Rockies would.

    • BrienJackson

      Honestly I think I'd rather trade Banuelos than Betances given the choice. Either way the point still holds; Banuelos is 20, and is suddenly struggling now that he's hit the high minors. He's not on the verge of cracking the bigs right now, and he could easily flame out between now and then. You don't want to give that away for any innings eater you can find, but for a pitcher of Ubaldo's caliber you don't hesitate if the price is right.

    • Faiaz

      Take Romine? You’re nuts. He IS our next catcher, you can take that to the bank. Maybe you are not familiar with what he can become since he is sort of under the radar but the kid is simply awesome.

    • I think the Yankees brass might be split on the Banuelos/Betances decision. Their numbers are more or less identical at AA, but Betances has been climbing up prospect lists, while Banuelos has been falling. His control problems may be associated with being a 20-year-old in the high minors, but his 4.9 BB/9 in 110 AA innings has some evaluators running scared. On the whole, I'd agree with you, mainly because Banuelos is younger and left-handed (which plays well to Yankee Stadium), but I think many would be willing to flip a coin on who is the better long-term commitment. No chance the Rockies have any interest in Romine, as they have a preferable catching prospect of their own. And I doubt anybody has much interest in Hughes right now.

      • smcsk8

        Agreed. I've seen several people suggest the Yanks offer Hughes in a deal, which…why would Colorado even consider that? Rockies are going to hang up the phone on an offer that includes Hughes, because he's not 18 win Hughes right now, he's…2011 Hughes with some so-so outings after spending half the season on the DL.

Comments are closed.