The MLB trade deadline is fast approaching and the Texas Rangers are searching high and low for players to help their ball club reach the World Series again. Names like Carlos Beltran, Heath Bell and Mike Adams have all been linked to Texas as possible cogs in a championship team.
Recently, though, an even more fascinating name has surfaced in connection to the Rangers: Ubaldo Jimenez. The Colorado Rockies ace apparently is on the trading block and teams such as the Cincinnati Reds, New York Yankees and Rangers are in full pursuit of the young flame-thrower.
Jimenez was one of the best pitchers in the game last season, finishing third in the Cy Young balloting in the National League behind Josh Johnson and Roy Halladay. He struck out 214 batters, had an ERA of 2.88 and a WHIP of 1.15 while pitching in a ballpark known to favor hitters. He is undoubtedly one of the pitchers with the highest upsides in all of the game.
But should the Rangers trade away top-tier prospects for a pitcher who has regressed? This season has seen Jimenez struggle to the tune of an ERA over four, a WHIP of 1.33 and has already given up the same number of home runs he allowed all of last season.
The answer is yes—but very cautiously.
I wrote an article a few weeks back making seven bold predictions for the Rangers second half. One of the predictions I made was that the Rangers would avoid trading for starting pitching and would be content with Derek Holland as their fifth starter, who I also predicted to have a strong second half.
Well, I take back the former.
Who should be the Texas Rangers top priority at the deadline?
The chance to add him to a rotation already staffed by All-Stars C.J. Wilson and Alexi Ogando has to be taken. Matt Harrison and Holland have done a great job rounding out the rotation, but I don't know how confident I am going into the playoffs with them being counted on to win big games.
Jimenez has playoff experience, which is much needed on a very inexperienced starting rotation. During the Rockies' World Series run in 2007, Jimenez allowed four runs in three games at the young age of 23.
Bringing in Jimenez would give Holland a little more time to figure out how to consistently be a dominating pitcher, which would see him back in the rotation in 2012 when Wilson possibly tests free agency.
I am aware that the greatest need for the Rangers is bullpen help, but relievers can be found just about anywhere. Darren O'Day is still in Triple-A, Tommy Hunter is transitioning to the pen and there are plenty of capable pitchers on the farm that could fill the bullpen hole.
Starting pitchers with electric stuff and experience is hard to come by. Outside of Cliff Lee, I can't recall a time recently the Rangers possessed a pitcher with that skill set.
Now is the perfect time to pounce on Jimenez as his value is at an all-time low (although the Rockies still want a fortune for the ace). He is under team control through 2013, which would give the Rangers three chances to make legitimate World Series runs with a bonafide ace headlining the starting rotation.
The Rockies would require Martin Perez or Jurickson Profar be the big-name prospect involved in a deal. The Rangers have said they would not trade either, but with Jimenez on the table, one has to think that the Rangers brass would at least consider it. A combination of Chris Davis, Robbie Erlin, Luis Sardinas, Joe Wieland, Robbie Ross, Engel Beltre, Tanner Scheppers and Neil Ramirez would all be prime names that could be sought after by the Rockies.
It's not known just what it will take to land Jimenez, but if the Rangers are serious about sustaining future success they must acquire an ace that will be in Texas for more than three months. I don't think they should sell the entire farm, but to get a proven front of the rotation guy such as Jimenez who is under contract for two more years, I think I might be a little more flexible than usual.