Well color me skeptical about the latter reports. For one thing, it just makes no sense. A team refusing to make a deal contingent on a physical might as well just stab their player’s right arm with a giant red flag, and wouldn’t even seem to serve a purpose from a negotiating standpoint, since it hardly seems that you could get more value out of a trade by consenting to allowing a physical first. But even more strange than that is the fact that the deal Colorado ultimately made with Cleveland is contingent on a physical! So even if the Rockies were refusing the request days ago, they ultimately relented on it. At the least, if the Yankees really bowed out completely over the matter, it seems like a clear failure of due diligence on the part of Brian Cashman.
And then there’s the conflicting reports about the talks themselves. Jon Heyman is now reporting that the Rockies asked for Jesus Montero, Dellin Betances, Ivan Nova, and Phil Hughes (though he doesn’t say when this request was made, so there’s no telling how serious it was). That is quite the haul, and it’s a good bit more than the deal they ultimately took, even with Hughes’ troubles factored in. According to Sherman the Yankees say they never made a proposal, though Colorado sources say that the Yankees made an offer around…Phil Hughes.
On the one hand, I’m inclined to disbelieve this too. After all, a Hughes-centric deal would make no sense whatsoever for the Rockies. Aside from the fact that he’s struggled this year, he’s already in to arbitration, and compared to Ubaldo’s current contract he’s neither significantly cheaper nor under team control much longer than Ubaldo. So why would Colorado even entertain this deal? On the other hand, the notion that the Yankees tried to present Ubaldo as “troubled” like Hughes is consistent with what we’ve heard about the Yankees concern about Ubaldo since the rumors first broke.
Ultimately we’re never going to know exactly what happened, but the more information that comes out, the more it sounds like the Yankees just didn’t really want to make a deal with Colorado. The claim in Sherman’s report that the Yankees viewed Ubaldo as “more of a number 3” starter is just farcical, and sounds like someone rationalizing a controversial decision to me. Ubaldo would be the 2nd best starter on the Yankees’ current roster, and is probably better than anyone else the Yankees will have a chance to acquire over the next couple of seasons.
At least team sources are still throwing around the line that you just can’t trust a potential acquisition who never pitched in the American League East before (as opposed to the ones who did). That gives me some hope we won’t all be complaining about C.J. Wilson‘s contract come 2013. Not much, but some. And since Jesus Montero is just too good to trade for a big upgrade to the starting rotation, I assume I can expect to see him replacing the offensive black hole Russell Martin has become any day now, right?
I will say one thing that might ruffle some feathers though; if the Yankees are truly this serious about pinning their hopes on Betances and Banuelos, they’d probably better thank Brian Cashman for his service at the end of 2011 and go looking for a GM with a better track record of successfully developing young pitchers.