The Indians are clearly all in for this season trading four prospects including Alex White and Drew Pomeranz (the likely player-to-be-named) in exchange for Ubaldo Jimenez. Starting pitching has been Cleveland’s biggest weakness, and Jimenez instantly becomes the team’s best starter.
AccuScore projections from Saturday (the day this deal was made) show that Jimenez improves the Indians by 1.1 wins, a large impact for a starting pitcher. The likelihood of a Central Division title went up by 5.8 percentage points. The team also acquired outfielder Kosuke Fukudome and traded away Orlando Cabrera handing the second base job to rookie Jason Kipnis.
Even with these improvements, Cleveland is still an underdog to Detroit in the race for a playoff spot. Jimenez is a good pitcher, but not the same elite player he was the first half of 2010. He has a 4.17 ERA and only 10 wins in 36 starts since last year’s All-Star break. Much of this however can be blamed on a terrible 5.55 ERA at Coors Field. Jimenez has been significantly better on the road, and now no longer has to pitch in Colorado. Even with the subpar recent performance, his xFIP of 3.56 still ranks second among Indians starters to Justin Masterson’s 3.41 and his K/9 is far and away the best at 8.63. The bottom line is Jimenez significantly improves Cleveland’s outlook, but the team will still have to chase in the AL Central.