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.
MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports that the Rays have acquired first baseman Lucas Duda from the Mets. The Mets will receive pitching prospect Drew Smith in return, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.
Duda, 31, is batting .246/.347/.532 with 17 home runs and 37 RBI in 291 plate appearances for the Mets this season. He’ll provide a potent bat in the Rays’ lineup as they attempt to overcome their current 2.5-game deficit in the AL East.
Smith, 23, is the Rays’ No. 30 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He ascended from High-A to Triple-A already this season, posting an aggregate 1.60 ERA with a 40/9 K/BB ratio over 45 innings across four stops with High-A Lakeland (Tigers), High-A Charlotte (Rays), Double-A Montgomery, and Triple-A Durham.
The Blue Jays completed a four-game series sweep against the Athletics on Thursday afternoon and won their second consecutive game in walk-off fashion. Last night, the Jays went into the bottom of the ninth inning trailing 2-0, but a two-run home run by Justin Smoak followed by a solo home run from Kendrys Morales led to a 3-2 walk-off victory.
Thursday’s game was already interesting enough as starter Marcus Stroman, catcher Russell Martin, and manager John Gibbons were all ejected by home plate umpire Will Little. Despite the adversity, the Jays battled the A’s, tying the game at four apiece when Morales blasted a solo home run — his second of the game — in the bottom of the ninth inning. In the 10th inning, A’s reliever Liam Hendriks walked the bases loaded with two outs to bring up Steve Pearce. Pearce worked the count full before pulling a fastball down the left field line for a walk-off grand slam, giving the Jays an 8-4 victory to complete the sweep.
Before Pearce, the last Jays hitter to hit a walk-off grand slam was Gregg Zaun on September 6, 2008 against the Rays, per SportsNet Stats.