Every summer, the Yankees are tied to trade rumors for at least one stud starting pitcher. Last year, it was Cliff Lee and Dan Haren. This year, it’s Ubaldo Jimenez. The 27-year-old righty had a spectacular season last year, posting a 19-8 record with a 2.88 ERA. Jimenez has hit a few speed bumps thus far this season (5-8, 4.08 ERA), but has gone 5-3 with a 2.55 ERA over the last two months. The Rockies are 9.5 games out and are considering trading their ace for the right package. Young, stud pitcher rarely hit the open trade market, so the Yankees are rightfully doing their due diligence. Here are three postives and three negatives to trading for Ubaldo.

Bronx Bound?

The Positives

1. Pocket Aces: It’s no secret that the Yankees have been desperate for another ace to pair with CC. Cliff Lee slipped through their grasps twice, Felix Hernandez is virtually untouchable, and the impending free agent class does not offer any true dominant options. With the core of the Yankee team aging, winning now becomes even more important.

The Yankees always must be mindful of their playoff opponents and potential pitching match-ups. CC can stand up to Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, and Jon Lester, but can the Yankees #2 (I couldn’t tell you who it is) stand up to Cliff Lee, Matt Cain, or Josh Beckett? The answer is a resounding no.

While the Bartoly Garlon was great over the first half, this two-headed monster is a ticking time bomb. The Yankees know that a rotation backed by Colon and Garcia will not land them in the Canyon of Heroes come November. The risk associated with AJ Burnett and Phil Hughes mitigates with the potential addition of Jimenez.

2. Associated Cost: Say what you want about the Yankees payroll, but the team has adopted a more cost orientated approach to their payroll. The Rockies inked Jimenez to a long-term deal in 2009, where the contract is extremely team friendly. He will earn $2.8 million this year, $4.2 in 2012, and a $5.75 option in 2013. That’s a ridiculous value for a player who is more talented and cheaper than Dan Haren was last season (Haren is making $12.75 in 2011,2012 with a 2013 option). 

The situation reminds me a lot of Curtis Granderson. Granderson was struggled through 2009, but the Yankees saw an opportunity, given the team friendly cost and potential. It’s no secret that that investment and players surrendered make the trade a slam dunk for the Yanks. Obviously young, ace pitchers are in a different class, but the Yankees have a chance to add a super talented arm at the lowest value he’ll probably ever have.

3. Ubaldo’s Stuff and Durability: In terms of overall stuff, few have a better arsenal than Jimenez. He has two plus fastballs that sit in the mid-90s. His two-seamer is absolutely filthy, running in on righties. Jimenez will show off his slider to righties and changeup to lefties, but his splitter is his strikeout pitch. Speaking of strike outs, Jimenez has a 8.39 K/9 since 2009.

Jimenez has only visited the disabled list once (this season) and that was for a cracked fingernail. Jimenez is on pace for his fourth straight 190+ inning season. The guy can eat innings up.

The Negatives

1. Associated Cost, Again: Given Jimenez’s immense talent, the Yankees would have to offer a tremendous package to get the Rockies interested. The Yankees four best prospects include Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, and Ivan Nova. The Rockies have apparently asked for all four in return. SI’s Jon Heyman noted that the Yankees will not part with any of their three top pitching prospects, if Montero is included. This just smells like a negotiation. Both sides will likely move a little on their stances, but will they get close enough?

It’s also worth noting that Cashman has totally rebuilt the Yankee farm system. Is he willing to tear it all down for three years of Ubaldo? After Montero, the Yankees really lack an impact bat. Banuelos is considered the prized arm of the organization and could have an impact in 2012. Would a package of Montero, Betances, and Nova get it done? Would the Yankees even offer it?

2. Ubaldo Sounds Just Like AJ: When analyzing Jimenez’s past performance, pre-2009 AJ Burnett comes to mind. Alike Jimenez, Burnett was coming off of three above average seasons prior to signing with the Yanks. Since coming to NY, Burnett is 31-31 with a 4.50 ERA. Burnett struck out 195 hitters in 2009, but has watched his strikeout rate decrease. Jimenez is younger than Burnett, but his herky-jerky windup and delivery reminds me all too well of #34.

3. Playoff Performance: While Jimenez has been great during the regular season, he has struggled in the playoffs. Jimenez allowed seven runs in 15 IPs against the Phils in 2009. He did allow only four runs in 16 IPS during Colorado’s World Series run in 2007. It’s a small sample size, but it’s worth nothing.

Fun fact: Jimenez has a 4.08 ERA in Inter-League play. Again, it’s a small sample size, but worth noting.

Alike any trade, it comes to players surrendered. I’ve always believed that prospects are just that—-prospects. We’ve all heard the Miguel Cabrera comparisons for Jesus Montero,but that means little if he doesn’t have a true position in New York. Manny B is a ‘Can’t-Miss’ arm, but can the Yankee afford growing pains with their core aging? Jimenez is a bankable option now and that holds a lot of present value.

The Rockies are known for their second half surges and trading Jimenez now ultimately waves the white flag for 2011 and beyond. Will Colorado be willing to do that? Will the Yankees trade their future for a team-friendly player and 1A ace for CC?

Which ever way you cut it, the Yankees will need to trade at least three or four young players with Jesus Montero headlining any package. The Yankees should keep Banuelos, but surrendering the upside of Betances and MLB-ready ability of Nova is worth it in my opinion. Remember, prospects are just prospects and minor league results don’t always translate to the Bigs. If the price is right, the Yankees need to pull the trigger and give the Big Man some help atop the rotation. It will help them match up with the league’s best and may push them over the hump in 2011. Opportunities like this one rarely come along.