There may be a bit of debate whether talented right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez is a bona fide ace or a No. 2 starter, but he appears to be the No. 1 pitcher out on the trade market.
With the Rays still very likely to hold onto star pitcher James Shields, Erik Bedard bombing in his showcase and Hiroki Kuroda seen as unlikely to approve a trade, Jimenez stands out. Bedard's blowup presumably scared off most, if not all, suitors. Kuroda was still receiving keen interest from the Dodgers, but all indications so far were that he was unlikely to accept a deal out of Los Angeles, limiting the starting-pitching market and keeping the price high for Jimenez.
Jimenez has drawn varying degrees of interest from the Red Sox, Indians, Reds, Jays, Tigers and Yankees. Detroit, which called up top pitching prospect Jacob Turner on Saturday and was said to be working on several fronts Friday, was reported late Friday to possibly be out on Jimenez after balking at the inclusion of Turner plus either Max Scherzer or Rick Porcello.
Boston and Cleveland have been painted as the most aggressive pursuers at different points of the chase, though it seemed unlikely the Indians would part with their top prospects to make such a deal, even though Jimenez has a very team-friendly contract. The Reds, who are only on the cusp of the race now after slumping lately, didn't seem to be of a mind to send their top young payers to Colorado so far.
The Red Sox's need for a starter was ramped up with the revelation that Clay Buchholz's back injury could be more serious than first believed, with Buchholz now scheduled to visit noted back specialist Robert Watkins in Los Angeles. The spectre of a possible Red Sox-Yankees battle for Jimenez loomed, though at the moment the Rockies and Yankees don't appear to be in regular contact.
The last time those two teams are known to have talked, the Rockies told the Yankees they wanted back Manuel Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Ivan Nova and Jesus Montero. While it's believed Colorado wouldn't ultimately insist on both Banuelos and Betances, there was still no sign of real progress with New York.
The Reds, Red Sox, Indians and Jays were all said to have the type of prospects the Rockies would seek. It appears they have particular interest in a first baseman to eventually replace Todd Helton, a catcher and pitching.
In any case, Jimenez's first appearance on the trade market was at first seen as a trial ballon by many rival executives. But now that talks are getting a bit more serious, the chances appear a bit greater that he may actually be moved.
• The Tigers' callup of ballyhooed young righthander Turner could inject some added life into Detroit as it tries to steal the AL Central. But the Tigers were working on several other things, including adding Mariners starter Doug Fister, which they completed Saturday morning.
• Seattle is probably the right town for Bedard, who is publicity averse according to executives who know him. His showcase was an absolute bomb, and it's hard to imagine the Yankees, Red Sox or Tigers taking a chance on him now.
• The Rangers are still viewed as the favorite for Heath Bell. The Cardinals are believed to have some interest, as well. Oakland's Andrew Bailey appeared to be a fall-back option or Texas.
• The Cardinals are also looking for infield help. The Brewers and Diamondbacks also seek infield reinforcements.
• The Phillies were bound and determined to acquire Pence, who gives them the right-handed hitter they need. The Astros didn't do terribly getting first base prospect Jonathan Singleton and pitching prospect Jarred Cosart along with two players to be named (one is minor-league pitcher Josh Zeid). The Astros also paid $1 million toward Pence's salary, according to sources.
• Singleton and Cosart are ranked high on prospect lists. Though, one scout said about Cosart, "He has good stuff, but where are the results?"
• The Phillies are sending down top prospect Domonic Brown. Charlie Manuel said, before the trade was announced, "I think Dom Brown can be more relaxed at Triple-A.'' A few hours later, Manuel had his wish, as Brown is being sent down.
• Houston is talking to a few teams about Michael Bourn now, including the Reds and Braves.The price tag is said to be high on Bourn.
• Carlos Quentin is available at the right price. The White Sox must like OF prospect Dayan Viciedo because they are in race. But there's no pressure to trade Quentin now. They could wait until the winter. With the White Sox only three games out of first place, their big potential sale is looking extremely unlikely now.
• Twins pitcher Kevin Slowey, currently in the minors, is sought by a few teams. The Twins are not expecting to be big sellers, either, since they are still not far off the pace in the wide-open AL Central. So Michael Cuddyer probably isn't going anywhere.
• Koji Uehara is drawing a lot of interest and has a decent chance to be moved. The Angels make sense for him. Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie did the opposite of Bedard, having a nice showcase.
• Rivals say the price tag is high on Kuroda, perhaps with the thought that he isn't likely to accept a trade anyway.
• The Brewers, Diamondbacks, Pirates and Indians are looking at Jamey Carroll.
• The Cubs are at a handicap because players like it there so much. Aramis Ramirez's agent, Paul Kinzer, said his client wanted to stay a Cub and would only accept a trade if he knew the team was totally disbanding (i.e. Matt Garza, Sean Marshall and others were being dealt), and that isn't happening.