Indians

Talkin’ Tribe: Winning the Ubaldo trade, Kazmir’s future, and Tim Hudson?

Scott Kazmir

Scott KazmirYou can forget any talk about Ubaldo Jimenez returning to Cleveland, no matter what GM Chris Antonetti said yesterday. Of course they want to talk to him about a long term deal. Doesn’t mean it is going to happen. I am sure that Ubaldo’s agents will give the Indians brass a courtesy meeting, but he priced his way right out of town with his superb performance after the All-Star break. As I have said for six plus weeks – the Edwin Jackson/Cubs four-year, $52 million contract from last winter should be the absolute starting point for any negotiations for Jimenez and any team he talks to. That being the case, it is obvious we have seen the last of Ubaldo Jimenez in an Indians uniform.

With the Ubaldo era all but over here, we can now close the book on the infamous trade that was panned initially by so many – yours truly included. Despite the fact that two of the two and a half years he was here were extremely uneven, Antonetti traded for Ubaldo to help pitch his team to the playoffs. In the end, that is exactly what he did, just a couple of seasons later than he was acquired to do so. You can now say with conviction that the Indians got the better of the deal with the Rockies that sent former first round picks Alex White and Drew Pomeranz to Colorado.

White made 27 starts (30 appearances) over two seasons in Denver. He posted an ERA of 6.30, a 1.70 WHIP, had only 88 K’s in 130.1 innings pitched, and gave up 25 homers. The former UNC standout was dealt last December to Houston as a part of a package for reliever Wilton Lopez. White missed all of 2013 after blowing out his elbow, requiring Tommy John surgery.

Pomeranz hasn’t fared much better and has still yet to assert himself as a member of the Rockies rotation. He made 22 starts in 2012 and went 2-9 with a 4.93 ERA/1.47 WHIP/83 K/46 BB in 96.2 IP. He started 2013 in AAA and made only four starts during the season with four other relief appearances in the bigs. Drew regressed in his 21.2 innings of work, walking 19 and striking out 19 while putting up a 6.23 ERA and a 2..03 WHIP.

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While the Indians offered Jimenez a $14.1 million qualifying deal which he will more than likely decline, they did not extend the same deal to lefty Scott Kazmir. Jacob talked about this over the weekend, but Antonetti and his staff had a tough decision to make. They know they need starting pitching depth and are now faced with losing two of their top five starters from a year ago. There is a much better shot of Kazmir re-signing here on a multi-year deal, but it only takes one team to fall in love with Kaz and overpay him.

The pros of bringing him back: He is still just 29 years old and regained his hard throwing form last year. In addition, as the great Steve Kinsella pointed out to me yesterday, Kazmir really learned “how to pitch” last year. This was a guy who saw the bottom and reinvented himself after essentially pitching just one big league season since 2009 and spending 2012 pitching in the Independent League. 2013 may have been a jump off point for Kazmir.

The cons of bringing him back: Kazmir is still a risk. Just as easily as last season could be the beginning of a return to prominence for him, it could also have been a one-year fluke. The 158 innings he pitched in 2013 were his most since 2010 (150). Kazmir also has pitched over 200 innings just once in his career, 2007. Lastly, it only takes one team to give him a three-year deal, which I don’t think the Indians are willing to do.

In the end, I believe the market for Kazmir will be around two years and $25 million. That should be something the Indians could handle. But the real question is would Antonetti bring him back at that price or let him walk and hope to find someone who can do what Kazmir did last year on a less expensive or a one year deal?

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An interesting name surfaced yesterday; Atlanta free agent Tim Hudson. According to reports, Hudson had “a lengthy conversation” with Tribe manager Terry Francona a few days ago about possibly joining the Indians as that middle of the rotation, veteran stabilizer. He is 38 years old and coming off of a broken ankle which ended his season prematurely. Hudson had been pitching well and has been solid for 15 years. In only two of his 15 seasons has he posted an ERA over four, one of them was in 2000 when he went 20-6 in Oakland and finished second for AL Cy Young. He isn’t a hard thrower at this point in his career; Hudson is more of a “pitcher.”

I’m not sure if Hudson coming here is realistic.He has loved his nine years in Atlanta and despite not receivng a qualifying offer from the Braves, they are said to want him back. Hudson was born in Georgia, grew up in Alabama, and went to college at Auburn. That is Braves country. With that said, maybe Hudson wants a new challenge. He will have no shortage of suitors. The Royals are said to be aggressive in their pursuit of the veteran starter as well. If this turns into a bidding war, I just don’t see the Tribe winning out.

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As the days and months go by there will be a ton of speculation regarding the Indians and starting pitchers. This is just the beginning.

 

  • Adam Copeland

    I agree Ubaldo’s almost certainly gone, but it’ll be interesting to see what the market is for Kazmir. I think 2 years, $25 million may be a bit much.

    FWIW, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke with an MLB agent and MLB GM and the three of them guessed that Kazmir would get a 1 or 2 year deal netting anywhere from $7.5 million to $10 million per year (http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/writer/jon-heyman/24191882/free-agent-rankings-no-1-cano-to-65-market-stronger-than-some-think). Given his injury history and the fact that he wasn’t even in the MLB last season, that seems more likely. If the Indians could get him to sign a 2 year deal for $14-15 million, that seems like a reasonable risk to me. Hell, they paid Brett Myers $7 million last year.

  • Natedawg86

    Agree. I don’t think we will give him much more than that. Will be interesting to see what Mick can do this offseason with the others. He really transformed Ubaldo, and did a fine job with Kaz last year. Should be fun to see Salazar develop. Hopefully we can do something with Bauer too.

  • mgbode

    at that price, Kazmir could come back. I think he goes for at least 2yrs/$20mil though just on his potential (and being a lefty)

  • mgbode

    interesting to think about where Ubaldo may land. I think one of the bottom10 teams that only have to give up a 2nd round pick are the likeliest of spots. especially, since there are many big market teams in that pool this year:

    Houston, Miami, both Chicago teams, Minny, Seattle, Philly, Mets, Toronto, Milwaukee

    The Brewers showed with Lohse they are willing to dip into this pool. I’d think that NYM or Chicago-Cubs would be willing to go after him as well. Toronto may be tapped out on budget after last year. Should be interesting (especially if a team like the Cubs decides to go all-in and go after Ubaldo & Choo).

  • Steve

    I’d guess the Brewers are looking to dump salary (Ramirez?) rather than take more on.

  • Kildawg

    Maybe Hudson wants to have a reunion with Giambi in Cleveland and party like it’s 2000. Another team that would be willing to throw beaucoup dollars at Ubaldo would be the LA Angels (unless the blow it all up; highly unlikely). With LAA that could be a sign Ubaldo to mega deal and trade him for Trumbo; wins all around in that scenario.

  • Kildawg

    Kerry Wood got 2yrs/$20M to be a closer some odd years ago. Why not the same team that signed Wood to that deal offer it to Kazmir?

  • nj0

    I’ve heard Toronto’s name mentioned a lot.

  • mgbode

    well, then I’d like to see if they are interested in dumping Lohse 🙂

  • mgbode

    I thought it was $30/3yrs w/ Wood? either way, because we learned our lesson? (oh wait, Myers happened last year. so, perhaps not)

  • Kildawg

    Some deals pan out, some don’t. I remember Kevin Millwood and Carl Pavano panning out as starters. Even Paul Byrd worked out just fine.

  • mgbode

    Pavano was horrible. So was Byrd (to a lesser degree though) and the news of his PED use coming out the same day as game7 vs. Boston didn’t help matters.

    Yes, we got the weird good year from Millwood, which was a great signing. Even better, we didn’t keep him when he fell back to career norms the next year.

  • Steve

    Byrd hit 30 starts all three years he was in uniform, averaging 184 IP/year with a 95 ERA+, where league average for a SP is 96. He was a league average innings eater, which is definitely not horrible, and very useful.

    While I won’t spend too much energy defending Pavano, after his blowup nine runs in one inning debut, he settled in as a 6+ inning guy at just below league average for SP. That one start skewed his ERA quite a bit, I’d say after that he was a useful innings eater, which is a thing that almost every team needs.

  • mgbode

    Byrd was a 2.8 WAR guy in 3 seasons. Not the worst, but he wasn’t good at all.

    I don’t know how Pavano ended with a 0.1 WAR, but credit him for staying on the positive side. It was a terrible signing. He had 8 starts giving up at least 4 runs. 7 starts where he gave up as many runs as IP. These stats in 21 total starts. Importantly though, he didn’t cost us much that season.

  • Steve

    Byrd took a 0.2 WAR in 2006 because he allowed quite a few unearned runs. BB-ref still credits a lot of unearned runs to the pitcher when calculating WAR. I’d argue his performance was similar to 2007, when his defense performed much better, and lo and behold he gets another 1.5 WAR.

    For Pavano, again, I’m not going to strongly defend him, he wasn’t good. But for a back of the rotation starter when offenses were still chugging along, those starts #2-21 are acceptable. Especially, as you point out, for that cheap. I’d say that any signing that cheap would be very hard to call “terrible”. The opportunity cost is very low, and its easy to move on if it doesn’t work.

  • nj0

    Byrd was good. He was worth what he was getting, but not more. FGs WAR is much kinder to him than BRs.

  • mgbode

    the best part about the Pavano signing was that he didn’t last the year.

  • mgbode

    we have different definitions of “good.” I stand by that he was bad, but not horrific. Getting starts (not even a pitcher, but a culmination of starts) with those numbers isn’t all that hard. He was often hit (terrible WHIP despite decent BB rate) and often hit hard (HR/9) and a negative WPA (win probability added).

    again, he wasn’t nearly as horrific as Pavano or Myers, but he was still bad and I hated having guys like him at the end. if we are getting those types of stats, then it’s my opinion to better get them from the younger pitchers that may use that experience to get better (like McAllister) rather than throw them away on a guy who won’t.

  • Steve

    Well, we just have to look at the 2012 Indians to see what can happen when a team lack innings eaters, and have a parade of young guys to get through the season.

    Pitching is both expensive and fragile. I think you greatly underestimate the value of getting 180 league average, or even just a tick below, innings in the back of your rotation.

  • Steve

    I’d be all about that.

  • nj0

    If you go by his fWAR, I have to imagine he was producing around what league average for WAR per $.

  • @TheDeePagel

    I was discussing this with some of my friends who are St. Louis Cadinals fans….

    They asked me if I would trade Cabrera to be their SS. I said yeah I would. They said for who? I answered Joe Kelly and Jason Motte. All of them agreed in a heartbeat. I think the Indians make out like bandits in this deal, they seem to think it is a steal for them….

    Help me out here – am I missing something?

  • @TheDeePagel

    Assuming of course that Motte is healthy….

  • mgbode

    Motte only has 1 more year of control and they have plenty of depth there, so I can see them willing to part with him.

    Joe Kelly is likely off the table of any Asdrubal trade though. I think your friends just got sick of watching Kozma at the plate. Doubly sick when they get to also watch Carpenter, Beltran, Molina, Holliday, Adams, Freese, Craig, and Jay.

    interesting trade idea though to be fair to both sides:
    Craig and Motte for Asdrubal

    Craig has injury concerns, but is signed through 2017 (and Adams proved he is more than capable of taking his place). Motte has injury concerns and only 1 more year on his deal.

    St.Louis might balk if they lose Beltran, but I think it’s fair to both sides.

  • 23skidoo2

    Tribe should go all in on ubaldo, 3yr./50 million. More pros than cons in this one. He doesn’t look like a flash in the pan. At 29 he’s in his prime. Shows good faith too tribe fans, the future is now. Especially if you don’t want too risk paying a so called power hitter beau-coup cash. lots of risk in that, puljos, hamilton, etc. we’ll see. flip the switch Chris A. Curious what tito thinks.