Heyman: Rockies want four from Yankees for Ubaldo Jimenez

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It was a given that the Rockies would ask for the moon in return for Ubaldo Jimenez.  Who knew they’d want a planet, too?

According to SI.com’s Jon Heyman, the Rockies have asked the Yankees for catcher Jesus Montero, RHP Ivan Nova and the team’s top two pitching prospects — Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances — in return for Jimenez.

Jimenez is worthy of a big-time payout — he’d be under control through 2013 at a bargain price — but that’s an extreme return.  One could argue that Montero and Banuelos are both better prospects than any of the three the Red Sox gave up for Adrian Gonzalez over the winter.

For trade talks to progress, the Rockies would likely have to drop their request for both Montero and Banuelos.  At this point, the Yankees are probably more likely to part with Montero, who would have been the centerpiece of a Cliff Lee deal with Seattle last summer.  He’s been a disappointment this year, having hit a modest .288/.347/.413 with seven homers in 281 at-bats for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  Still, he has terrific offensive potential and he might flourish following a move to first base.  That’s where the Rockies would likely put him, since they have already have an excellent catching prospect in Willin Rosario.

Banuelos, arguably one of the game’s top-five pitching prospects, has amassed a 3.64 ERA and an 86/45 K/BB ratio in 84 innings as a 20-year-old in Double-A.

In the unlikely event that the two sides are able to come to a deal, my guess is that it would involve Montero, Betances and a lesser prospect.  The Yankees would likely prefer to trade Nova, who would be less likely to be needed in the short term with Jimenez around, but the Rockies are going to need at least one high-upside arm in return for their ace.

Struggling Francisco Rodriguez’s job seems to be secure

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Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez continued to struggle on Thursday, allowing a run in a 2-1 loss to the Mariners. It’s the sixth time in nine appearances that the right-handed veteran has allowed a run, bumping his ERA up to 6.23. He’s blown two saves and has two losses on the year.

Despite that, it doesn’t sound like Rodriguez’s job as the Tigers’ closer is in any jeopardy, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports. When asked how much of a leash Rodriguez has, manager Brad Ausmus said, “I’ll let you know.” Ausmus continued, “I think people have short memories. This guy did a pretty good job for us last year. Early on, people were worried because the velocity was down. Well, the velocity is back.”

“But at some point,” Ausmus said, “he does have to pitch the way he pitched last year, because he did an outstanding job for us last year and in a city that has been looking for a closer that was consistent for a long time, he was that.”

Rodriguez, 35, doesn’t have the stuff he once did. And the Tigers do appear to have someone who would be a better option in high-leverage situations. Lefty Justin Wilson has thrown 9 2/3 scoreless, hitless innings so far this season with 15 strikeouts and three walks. But for now, it sounds like Rodriguez will be free to work through his issues.

The Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field

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Don’t look now, but the Nationals have the best record in baseball at 16-6. They’re coming off a 10-game road trip in which they went 9-1, including sweeps of the Braves and Mets and a 3-1 series against the Rockies at Coors Field. During that series with the Rockies, the Nationals scored 46 runs, which is nearly as many as the Royals (54) have scored all season long. The Nats scored double-digits in all three wins.

The first game at Coors, an 8-4 loss, saw a three-hit game from Anthony Rendon and a homer from Ryan Zimmerman.

The second game featured Trea Turner hitting for the cycle and driving in seven runs. Daniel Murphy had three hits and five RBI.

The third game saw Turner finish a triple short of the cycle. Bryce Harper had four hits. Zimmerman had three hits including a homer. Murphy homered, too.

The fourth game featured homers from Adam Eaton, Harper, and Murphy. Seven members of the lineup had multiple hits and six had multiple RBI including pitcher Gio Gonzalez.

The series helped the Nationals bring their run differential to +34, the best in the National League. The Yankees are the only team with a better differential at +35.

Indeed, the Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field. They return home to open up a three-game set with the ailing Mets on Friday night.