Colorado Rockies: Biggest Trades in Franchise History: 3-1
By Nolan Lees
It’s the final day of our countdown of the biggest trades in Colorado Rockies history, as we break down their top three blockbuster moves.
#3: Ubaldo Jimenez to the Cleveland Indians for Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Matt McBride and Joe Gardner
Let’s take a journey back in time. It’s July 8th, 2010, the Rockies are at home playing the St. Louis Cardinals, and Jimenez is absolutely mowing them down. In just 94 pitches, Jimenez navigates eight innings, allowing just three hits and a single run. Colorado wins 4-2, and Jimenez’s record improves to a remarkable 15-1.
There was no way to know it then, but that was as good as it would get for Jimenez and the Rockies.
Jimenez started the All-Star game for the National League, and while he did just fine (two scoreless innings), something was unmistakably different when the second half of the season rolled around. The lanky right-hander went just 4-7 in 15 starts over the second half, including just a single win in his last five starts as the team slid out of the playoff race.
The numbers at the end of the season still looked great (19-8, 2.88 ERA), but the relationship between the team and the player never fully recovered. That offseason, the front office bestowed massive contract extensions on Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, but chose to let Jimenez keep pitching on a short-term contract.
It was a justifiable business decision, but Jimenez later admitted he felt slighted by the move. The next season, Jimenez took a big step backwards. Through 21 starts, he had a 6-9 record and a 4.46 ERA, a far cry from his dominant start to the 2010 season. With the Rockies season swirling the drain, trade rumors started swirling around Jimenez.
Just a day before the 2011 trade deadline, news broke: Jimenez was headed to Cleveland. In exchange, the Rockies received a haul of prospects, including a pair of highly-regarded young arms in Pomeranz and White.
The good news for Colorado? The fear that Jimenez would turn into a true ace outside of Coors Field turned out to be unfounded. He didn’t pitch better in the second half of 2011, and he lost a career-high 17 games in 2012. He rebounded with a better year in 2013, but left for Baltimore in free agency after the season.
Unfortunately, just because the trade didn’t work out for Cleveland doesn’t necessarily mean it was a home run for the Rockies either. Pomeranz spent the next few years going back and forth between Triple-A and the majors, where he was usually hit hard. The Rockies eventually flipped him for Brett Anderson, who threw all of 43.1 innings in one season with Colorado.
And that, amazingly, was the best outcome among the players the Rockies received. White was in Colorado for less than two years before being sent to Houston. He later underwent Tommy John and is currently not signed with a professional team.
McBride had a few short stints with the Rockies, but mostly served as Triple-A depth before signing with Oakland. Gardner spent a few years with the Tulsa Drillers in Double-A before being released and was last pitching for the Lancaster Barnstormers, an independent minor league team.
Both Cleveland and Colorado have since wiped their hands of the trade. Only Jimenez and Pomeranz still hold relevance at the MLB level, though neither of them are guaranteed spots in their teams starting rotations this year.
Part of the fun in analyzing old trades is unearthing some old transaction that looked like nothing at the time, but eventually became a big deal. Ramon Ramirez for a player to be named later, then that player becomes Jorge De La Rosa.
But sometimes, the opposite happens, and a move that looks like it’ll shape franchises for years to come just slowly sinks into irrelevancy.
Ubaldo meant a lot to the Rockies and their fans, so this trade felt massive when it happened. But outside of sentimental reasons, this so-called blockbuster move looks a lot less important than we originally believed.