Indians have deal in place for Ubaldo

Indians have deal in place for Ubaldo

Indians have deal in place for Ubaldo
CLEVELAND -- The Indians pulled off a blockbuster deal on Saturday night, acquiring star pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez from the Rockies in exchange for a package of four prospects that included the top two pitching prospects in Cleveland's farm system. The deal is pending a physical.

The Tribe agreed to send right-hander Alex White, along with Minor League pitcher Joe Gardner and first baseman Matt McBride and a player to be named later, expected to be Drew Pomeranz, to Colorado in order to land Jimenez. Pomeranz and White were considered cornerstones for Cleveland's future rotation.

Indians general manager Chris Antonetti has insisted for weeks that the Tribe would not mortgage its future in any trade, but the ballclub clearly felt Jimenez was worth Colorado's high asking price. Jimenez immediately brings star power and a solid track record to the starting staff.

The Tribe indicated that Antonetti would not be available for comment until after the completion of Jimenez's physical on Sunday. Indians manager Manny Acta also declined comment when asked about the deal following Cleveland's 5-2 victory over the Royals on Saturday night.

Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd issued a statement in an official release.

"This was a very difficult decision for us to make," O'Dowd said. "But our focus with this deal was to make our team better in the very near future and we feel like we were able to do that in this situation.

"We believe the timing of this deal also allowed us to maximize the value we were able to get in return."

Jimenez, 27, also is under contractual control for 2012 ($4.2 million) and '13 ($5.75 million). His original contract with Colorado also included a club option for the '14 ($8 million) season, but that aspect can be voided now that he has been traded. Acquiring him shows, however, that Cleveland wants to make a push for the postseason.

Trade Include

"They're in a really good position right now, battling for first place," Jimenez told reporters in San Diego, where he made his final start for the Rockies on Saturday. "That's what you want as a player, to go to a contender. It's not easy when you get traded, but if you get traded you want to go to a team like that."

Following Saturday's win against the Royals, the Indians (53-51) moved within 1 1/2 games of the first-place Tigers in the American League Central. Cleveland's main area of need has been offense, but Jimenez gives the Tribe's already solid rotation another talented arm.

Giving up both Pomeranz and White was a steep price to pay.

Players inside Cleveland's clubhouse agreed.

"It's a lot to give up," Indians closer Chris Perez said. "But he's under control for two more years. He's a little nicked up I think and Colorado's not the easiest place to start. But when he's on, he's electric. Everybody saw that when they went to the World Series [in 2007]. It only helps us, I think.

"Obviously, we gave up a lot of talent, but you have to give up talent to get talent. Pomeranz has a lot of talent, but at the same time, he hasn't done anything up here yet. Maybe five years from now, we might be kicking ourselves. But you can't look five years from now."

Pomeranz, 22, was a first-round pick (fifth overall) by the Indians in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft and was on the fast track to the Majors. White, 22, was Cleveland's top selection (15th overall) in the previous summer's Draft. White reached the big leagues this year, and Pomeranz projects to do the same in 2012.

This season, the left-handed Pomeranz went 3-3 with a 1.98 ERA over 18 starts between Class A Kinston and Double-A Akron. Across 91 innings, he piled up 112 strikeouts against 38 walks. Pomeranz was slated to start on Saturday for Akron, but was a late scratch due to the trade.

Pomeranz is technically considered a "player to be named later" due to Major League Baseball's guidelines for trading recently drafted players. Since Pomeranz signed his first professional contract less than one year ago, he is ineligible to be traded until at least Aug. 15, which is the signing deadline for this year's Draft.

White -- currently on the 60-day disabled list -- was also slated to pitch on Saturday for Akron. The pitcher suffered a severe right middle finger injury while throwing a slider in a start against the Reds on May 20. In three outings for the Indians this year, he went 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA.

White was also a late scratch from what would have been his first Minor League rehab outing.

McBride (a second-round pick by the Tribe in the '06 Draft) was hitting .279 with 15 home runs, 26 doubles and 56 RBIs through 96 games between stints with Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus this year. Gardner, who was a third-round selection in the '09 Draft, was 7-8 with a 4.99 ERA in 19 starts for Akron.

In San Diego, Jimenez took the mound for the Rockies in a bizarre chain of events, pitching one forgettable inning as Colorado and Cleveland put the finishing touches on the deal. Jimenez allowed four runs on two hits, issued four walks and logged 45 pitches before receiving hugs from his now-former teammates in the dugout.

During Jimenez's appearance, he surrendered a two-run double to San Diego outfielder Ryan Ludwick, who is also reportedly on Cleveland's current wish list. There is a realistic chance that Jimenez and Ludwick will be teammates with the Indians before Sunday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline expires.

Ludwick would provide another lift for Cleveland's lineup, which has labored in the absence of injured outfielders Shin-Soo Choo and Grady Sizemore. On Thursday, the Indians acquired outfielder Kosuke Fukudome from the Cubs for a pair of Minor Leaguers in the first of its Deadline dealings.

Late Saturday night, the Indians also traded veteran infielder Orlando Cabrera to the Giants in exchange for Minor League outfielder Thomas Neal. Cleveland might be on the verge of promoting infielder Jason Donald from Triple-A Columbus, but the club might also be working on a trade for an infielder.

Due partly to a variety of health woes, Jimenez has struggled through an inconsistent season for the Rockies this year. During Spring Training, the right-hander dealt with hip flexor and groin issues. Jimenez also had a bout with a thumb cuticle injury.

After a stellar 2010 showing -- one that included a start for the National League in the All-Star Game -- Jimenez has gone 6-9 with a 4.46 ERA through in 21 starts this year. Last season, he went 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA over 33 outings, finishing third in balloting for the NL Cy Young Award.

Jimenez also threw a no-hitter against the Braves on April 17 last season.

Since opening 2010 with a 13-1 record and a 1.15 ERA through June 17, Jimenez has gone 15-19 with a 4.03 ERA. The right-hander has also seen the average velocity on his fastball drop from 96.1 a year ago to 93.4 this season. Jimenez was hitting 89-94 mph in Saturday's start against the Padres.

One promising note is that Jimenez has performed better away from Coors Field over his career. He has posted a 3.58 ERA on the road and a 3.67 ERA at home in his time with Colorado. This year, Jimenez has gone 3-5 with a 5.55 ERA at home, but had a 3-4 record, 2.83 ERA and a .178 opponents' batting average on the road, entering Saturday.

The Rockies signed Jimenez -- a native of the Dominican Republic -- as an amateur free agent in 2001. In six seasons with Colorado, he went 56-45 with a 3.62 ERA in 137 games, entering Saturday. Against the American League, Jimenez has gone 6-4 with a 4.08 ERA in 12 career Interleague starts.

Jimenez has never pitched in Cleveland.

"I don't know a lot about the city," Jimenez said. "But the stadium looks really nice. They have a really good crowd right now, especially the way they're playing. The weather is really nice. Its how I like it. It's really humid, so everything is going to break and really move."

The Indians are banking on it.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. Thomas Harding contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.