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Past & Present: The disastrous Ubaldo Jimenez trade

Less than a year after finishing third in NL Cy Young voting, Ubaldo Jimenez was dealt in a deadline blockbuster that has turned to ruin for all of the parties involved.

A sullen Ubaldo Jimenez exits the game after a poor outing in Detroit earlier this season.
A sullen Ubaldo Jimenez exits the game after a poor outing in Detroit earlier this season.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

In 2010, Ubaldo Jimenez put together the best season a Colorado Rockies starting pitcher ever had. He finished with 19 wins, a 2.88 ERA, started the All-Star Game and wound up third in NL Cy Young voting. However, the 2011 season did not go as planned for Jimenez or the Rockies and he wound up on the trading block.

As July wore on, Jimenez labored with an ERA above 4.00 and the Rockies fell toward 10 games out of the NL West race, trade rumors began to swirl surrounding Jimenez and several contending teams, mainly the Yankees and Indians. On July 30, with a trade imminent, he made one last start for the Rockies in San Diego, throwing one awkward inning before the deal with Cleveland was consummated.

If some media reports are to be believed, putting Jimenez on the mound in San Diego pushed the Indians to include Drew Pomeranz, the fifth overall pick in the 2010 draft, in the deal along with Alex White, Matt McBride and Joe Gardner.

Jimenez arrived on an Indians team that was 53-51, just a game-and-a-half out of the AL Central lead. However, he struggled in his 11 starts with Cleveland in 2011, posting a 5.10 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in 65 1/3 innings as the Indians sputtered down the stretch to an 80-82 finish, 15 games behind the division-champion Tigers and 11 out of the wild card.

Of the quartet of players that came to Colorado in the deal, White was the first to make his Rockies debut, doing so on August 23 against Houston at Coors Field. He allowed five runs on seven hits in six innings of work, earning a no-decision in an 8-6 Rockies win. White made a total of seven starts for the Rockies in 2011, allowing a dozen home runs in 36 1/3 innings en route to compiling an 8.42 ERA.

Pomeranz also saw time with the Rockies in September, making four starts in September. He wound up with a 5.40 ERA, thanks mostly to an ugly outing in Houston that saw him allow six runs in two innings of work.

Jimenez's struggles with Cleveland continued in 2012, as his WHIP and ERA both soared to career highs of 1.61 and 5.40. respectively. He also led the AL with 17 losses as the Indians sputtered to a 68-94 finish, 20 games behind Detroit for the division title.

That 68-94 mark in Cleveland was still better than what the Rockies managed, as Colorado slipped to its worst season in franchise history at 64-98 in a campaign that saw both White and Pomeranz feature prominently.

At age 23, Pomeranz made 22 starts for the Rockies in 2012, with a non-terrible 4.93 ERA (good for an ERA+ of 94) in 96 1/3 innings despite walking more than four batters per nine innings. He finished the season with a record of just 2-9, though the Rockies were 8-14 in games he started.

White posted an identical 2-9 record in 2012 as he made 23 appearances, 20 starts, for the Rockies in 2012. The Rockies were 9-11 in White's startes as he posted a 5.51 ERA for the club to go with a 1.68 WHIP, also struggling with walks.

McBride also had a cup of coffee with the Rockies in 2012, posting a .205/.222/.308 (.530 OPS) line in 78 at bats over 31 games that included a pair of home runs.

On December 4, 2012, the Rockies traded White, along with minor leaguer Alex Gillingham, to the Astros for reliever Wilton Lopez. In April, White underwent Tommy John surgery, which will cause him to miss the 2013 season. Lopez, meanwhile, has appeared in 49 games for a Rockies club that sits five games out of first place in the NL West. He has thrown 48 2/3 innings and has a 4.25 ERA,

Pomeranz has made four starts for the Rockies in 2013, and the Rockies have failed to win any of them. He has not lasted longer than 4 1/3 innings in any of his starts and has posted a 8.10 ERA with 18 walks in 16 2/3 innings.

In Cleveland, Jimenez has recovered somewhat from his career-worst 2012 season, his ERA is nearly a run lower, at 4.49, despite a career-high 4.9 BB/9 and poor 1.50 WHIP. His K/9 has rebounded to 8.6 and he is 7-5 for an Indians team that sits with almost the same record as they had two years ago when the acquired him, 53-48. His 4.49 ERA, though, is still higher than it was during any of his seasons in Colorado.

The deal really didn't work out for either team, Cleveland, who acquired the "star" in the deal is 148-173 (.461) since the trade was made, while Colorado is 136-184 (.425) since dealing Jimenez. Jimenez has been worth -0.4 bWAR and 1.3 fWAR since joining the Indians, while the players the Rockies received (if you include Lopez in 2013) have been with a combined -0.5 bWAR and -0.1 fWAR.

The deal so far has been a total bust for both parties, who are a combined 73 games under .500 since the trade was made, with a total of zero playoff appearances to show for their efforts. The lesson here is when it comes to deadline deals, as with many things in life, caveat emptor.