The Rockies still feel like they’re in contention in the weak National League West despite an ugly first half and haven’t fully committed to selling off pieces. But that could change as the July 31 non-waiver deadline approaches, and one player drawing league-wide interest is right-handed ace Ubaldo Jimenez.
According to Jon Heyman of SI.com, the Yankees have engaged in discussions with the Rockies’ front office about acquiring Jimenez. The Red Sox, Tigers, Reds and others have also been linked.
Jimenez signed a team-friendly contract extension with Colorado in January 2009 that calls for a bargain $2.8 million salary this season, a $4.2 million salary in 2012, and contains affordable club options for 2013 ($5.75 million) and 2014 ($8 million). If the Rockies were to deal the 27-year-old right-hander, it wouldn’t be about dumping salary. It would be about seizing the opportunity to cash in on a high demand for quality starting pitching. Which means they’ll be asking for a boatload of young talent in return.
The Yankees might not be prepared to meet the asking price. According to Heyman’s source, young pitchers Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances and Ivan Nova have been deemed off-limits. Jesus Montero, on the other hand, may be available and has reportedly piqued the interest of the Rockies’ front office.
Jimenez has registered an underwhelming 4.08 ERA in 18 total starts this season, but he has a 2.56 ERA and 54/13 K/BB ratio in 59 2/3 innings since the start of June and garnered Cy Young Award votes in 2010.
The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reports that Athletics’ right-hander Sonny Gray will not pitch in the World Baseball Classic after failing to meet the necessary criteria for insurance coverage. He missed 70 days on the disabled list with forearm tightness and a back strain in 2016.
According to Oakland GM David Forst, Major League Baseball tried to persuade the insurance carrier to waive the requirements for Gray to pitch for Team USA, but the request was ultimately refused. Without coverage, Gray will be unable to participate in the competition, though Forst adds that the 27-year-old is still in perfect health as Opening Day approaches and should benefit from a slower spring training schedule without the added commitment on his plate.
Injuries complicated a down year for Gray, who pitched to a career-worst 5.69 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 7.2 SO/9 rate through 117 innings in 2016. His 1.4 HR/9 and 17.8% HR/FB rates suggested that he felt the effects of the home run spike more than most, capping a disappointing follow-up to his All-Star campaign during 2015.
While Gray works up to a healthy and productive start to the 2017 season, the Athletics will still see two players on WBC rosters next month: right-handed reliever Santiago Casilla, who is scheduled to pitch for the Dominican Republic, and fellow righty John Axford, for Team Canada.
Rangers’ outfielder Josh Hamilton is scheduled for another knee exam on Monday, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Hamilton left camp last week after feeling some pain in his left knee and received a PRP injection to alleviate the symptoms. Wilson notes that both Dr. Walt Lowe and Rangers’ assistant general manager Mike Daly noticed little improvement in the days following the injection.
More drastic measures could be necessary if the 35-year-old intends to return to the field this year. MLB.com’s TR Sullivan adds that the Rangers are considering arthroscopic surgery for Hamilton, which would set him back at least 4-6 weeks and eliminate any real chance of his making the Opening Day roster in April. Until they see the results of the surgery, however, the Rangers won’t rule out Hamilton’s potential return to the big leagues in 2017.
Hamilton is looking at his third major procedure since the end of the 2015 season. He missed all of the Rangers’ 2016 campaign after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery last spring and has not seen a full workload in the majors since his 2013 run with the Angels. Should he make a full recovery this season, he figures to see some time at first base/DH or the corner outfield.