CLEVELAND – Colorado Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez is headed to the Indians, but at a steep price.
The Tribe acquired the 27-year-old flamethrower in a trade Saturday, sending top pitching prospects Drew Pomeranz and Alex White, first baseman Matt McBride and pitcher Joe Gardner to Colorado.
The deal is contingent on Jimenez passing a physical given by Cleveland’s medical staff today.
“It sounds like a great pickup,” Indians first baseman Matt LaPorta said. “For the players on the team, I think it will show a lot about how much this organization wants to win.”
Jimenez, a 6-foot-4 right-hander, was the starting pitcher for the National League in the 2010 All-Star Game and possesses one of the most feared fastballs in the sport. He is 6-9 with a 4.46 ERA this season – striking out 118 batters in 123 innings – after finishing third in last year’s NL Cy Young Award voting.
Jimenez made his scheduled start Saturday for the Rockies in San Diego, but was removed after allowing four runs on 45 pitches in the first inning.
Two team sources said the Tribe front office was very unhappy that Colorado allowed him to pitch, knowing that a trade was imminent.
The swap was first reported by the Denver Post, including the detail that Pomeranz can’t officially be dealt until Aug. 16 – one year after the lefty signed his first professional contract with Cleveland. Officially, he is listed as a “player to be named later” in the transaction.
“Five years from now, we might be kicking ourselves, but you can’t play for five years from now,” Indians pitcher Chris Perez said.
The Rockies signed Jimenez to a four-year, $10 million contract prior to the 2009 season. The Tribe inherits options for 2013 ($5.75 million) and 2014 ($8 million), though he can void the latter as a result of being traded.
Jimenez’s career record is 56-45 with a 3.62 ERA and 773 strikeouts in 851 innings, all with Colorado. The five-year veteran is a native of the Dominican Republic.
Cleveland pulled off another trade later in the night, sending second baseman Orlando Cabrera to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for Triple-A outfielder Thomas Neal.
Cabrera opened the year as a starter, but was relegated to the bench after Jason Kipnis was called up. The veteran batted .244 in 91 games for the Indians.
Neal, 23, is currently sidelined with a left hand contusion and has been assigned to Columbus. He hit .295 for the Giants’ top farm team at Fresno.
The first indication that Jimenez was coming to the Indians came just as their game against Kansas City was beginning at Progressive Field. Pomeranz and McBride were pulled out of the starting lineup at Double-A Akron, while White was told he would not make his scheduled rehab appearance against Erie at Canal Park.
Though the right-handed White made three starts for Cleveland this season, going 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA, Colorado would not have made the trade without Pomeranz.
A blue-chip talent, Pomeranz was the fifth overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft. He was 0-1 with a 2.57 ERA in three starts with the Aeros, all coming after his promotion from Single-A Kinston, where he went 3-2 with a 1.87 ERA.
Second-year pro Garner, a righty, was 7-8 with a 4.99 ERA in 19 starts for Akron.
McBride, who has spent six seasons in the Indians system, hit .297 with 14 home runs in 84 games for the Aeros.
Contact Brian Dulik at firstname.lastname@example.org.