CLEVELAND (AP) — Ubaldo Jimenez has passed his physical, completing a trade that sends him from the Colorado Rockies to the Cleveland Indians.
After sending four minor leaguers, including their top two prime pitching prospects, to the Rockies for Jimenez, the Indians had an unusually long wait for it to become official Sunday. There was plenty of time for buyer’s remorse.
Then the right-hander passed a series of tests the Indians insisted upon.
“This was a rare and unique opportunity, especially in our market, which comes along few and far between,” Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said. “We requested the physical, the Rockies complied and if we were not happy — there was no deal.”
Antonetti got the results he wanted to hear a half hour before the 4 p.m. EDT trade deadline. That was about four hours after Jimenez went to visit doctors in Goodyear, Ariz., site of the Indians’ training facility.
The Indians were nervous as the deal was consummated on Saturday night. Jimenez started for Colorado in San Diego and the Indians watched as the pitcher they coveted so much gave up four runs in one inning before being lifted.
“There was a lot of anxiety and he didn’t exactly have a 1-2-3 inning,” Antonetti said, though the first-year GM wouldn’t second-guess the Rockies’ decision.
“In the end, we’re happy with the result,” he said.
Colorado gets minor league right-handers Alex White and Joe Gardner, first baseman Matt McBride and a player to be named, expected to be lefty Drew Pomeranz. White and Pomeranz were considered the top two pitching prospects in Cleveland’s organization. They were Cleveland’s No. 1 draft picks in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
“For no other player (discussed) would we have included both,” Antonetti said, estimating that about 75 players were mentioned in various talks with numerous teams.
“It was painful for us (to trade prized prospects), but we decided the time was right. We’re a better team than we were,” he said.
Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd was thinking toward the future of the franchise in making the deal.
” If we want to stay and maintain our competitiveness, with an opportunity to win every year, we had to be bold. It wasn’t a time to be timid,” O’Dowd said. “As difficult as it might have been to pull the trigger, it would’ve been more difficult not to do it and put our franchise in a position of facing some type of major rebuilding process in the near future. This decision, if we were 10 games up and not 10 games back, still would’ve been a difficult deal to pass up.”
Antonetti was trying to to land a much-needed hitter right up until the deadline and said he will continue to explore ways of trying to add offense to a club that has struggled to score for weeks.
“To some degree there is (disappointment),” he said, “but we’re still confident we can be bolstered by the return of two prominent players.”
Right fielder Shin-Soo Choo, the Indians’ top hitter the past two season, could return from a broken left thumb in mid-August. Former All-Star center fielder Grady Sizemore is recovering from hernia surgery, rehabbing a sore right knee and could provide a lift a little later.
Until then, Jimenez will be counted upon to help Cleveland overtake first-place Detroit in the AL Central. A 5-2 loss to Kansas City dropped the Indians 2 1/2 games back. They are 1 1/2 games ahead of the Chicago White Sox and four ahead of Minnesota.
“We’re happy to add a guy who can give us an opportunity to win every five days,” manager Manny Acta said. “Plus, he’s a quality human being, right for us in the clubhouse, a well-educated guy and classy.”
Jimenez is expected to join the Indians in Boston, but likely will not pitch until they open a series in Texas on Friday. To clear room on their 40-man roster, the Indians activated right-hander Mitch Talbot from the disabled list and designated him for assignment.
Acta wants Jimenez to have time to settle his personal life after the deal and not worry about having to pitch right away. He pointed out that the pitcher went from San Diego to Arizona for his physical, returned home to his family in Denver, then will go to Boston and Texas before even getting to Cleveland.
The Indians don’t seem concerned about recent reports that Jimenez, 19-8 a year ago, has seen his velocity drop and his ERA rise this year. He’s 6-9 with a 4.46 ERA in 21 starts. He had a 2.88 ERA in 2010.
“We’ve clocked him at 98 (mph) and his fastball is sitting at 93, 94,” Antonetti said. “That’s still fast.”
A move to the AL, where use of the designated hitter leads to more offense, isn’t daunting to the Indians.
“There’s always some adjustment, coming from the NL,” Antonetti said. “His stuff transfers anywhere.”
Important to the Indians is having contract control over the 27-year-old Jimenez until 2013 with a possible option for 2014. In recent years, the club has had to peddle consecutive Cy Young winners CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee as well as star catcher Victor Martinez before they got close to becoming free agents.
“We would not have made the deal if there was lesser control,” Antonetti said. “This wasn’t just about being better for a half season but for at least 2 1/2 seasons.”
An odd injury to McBride, who fouled a ball off home plate and into his face on Friday before a minor league game never was a sticking point to the deal, according to Antonetti.
“He’ll be down for a little bit, but nothing serious,” O’Dowd said. “The night he did it he went out and hit a home run or a double, so we thought he must be a pretty good one-eye hitter.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)