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.