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Tigers, Tribe examine price tag on Rox’s Jimenez

SAN DIEGO — The Indians and the Tigers have emerged as the most aggressive teams in talks with the Rockies about their ace pitcher, Ubaldo Jimenez. Of course, the Rockies want to extract a price that thus far several teams have decided not to pay.

For a time this week the Reds were the most prominent rumor, but starting pitchers Homer Bailey and Travis Wood, and either top catching prospect Devin Mesoroco or 100 mph-plus mph lefty Aroldis Chapman was too rich a ransom for a team below .500. The Yankees and Red Sox have made inquiries, and how aggressively you believe depends on which tweet or report you trust most.

The latest report from Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal has the Tigers willing to include righty prospect Jacob Turner, with Major League pitchers Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer being mentioned as possibly heading to the Mountains. The Indians have talked about not being willing to mortgage the future. However, there are at least indications that two prized pitching prospects, lefty pitcher Drew Pomeranz (at Double-A Akron) and righty pitcher Alex White (at Triple-A Columbus, but headed to Akron on a rehab assignment for a right middle finger injury) are in play. The Indians will not deal prized prospects for rental players, but Jimenez would be under club control through 2014.

The Rockies have shown no inclination to come down on their high price of Major League pitching and a top-of-the-line young player or prospect.

Jimenez is set to pitch for the Rockies on Saturday against the Padres.

In other trade-related news, the Rockies have been willing to discuss everyone except shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, outfielder Carlos Gonzalez and first baseman Todd Helton. Right fielder Seth Smith, who has proven to be a solid gap-to-gap hitter against right-handed pitching, is drawing the interest of multiple teams. The Rockies also are expected to see if they can find a taker for onetime top Draft pick Ian Stewart, a third baseman having a woeful offensive year.

– Thomas Harding

The high price of Ubaldo

Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez has a club-friendly contract, some success under his belt and a nice fastball. That means the Rockies would require a lot to deal him.

The price has surfaced.

Word in the industry is the Rockies are requiring a high price from the Reds, with whom they’ve had talks. The Rockies require starting pitchers Travis Wood and Homer Bailey, plus one of two young stars — flame-throwing left-handed pitcher Aroldis Chapman or top catching prospect Devin Mesoraco, currently at Triple-A Louisville. The Rockies have made it known that they have no plans to lower their price.

Another name that has come up in talks between the teams is prized first base-outfield prospect Yonder Alonso, but the Reds called him up from Louisville on Tuesday after trading Jonny Gomes to the Nationals for two prospects, left-handed pitcher Chris Manno and outfielder-first baseman Bill Rhinehart.

The Denver Post reported that the Rockies have asked about Reds outfielder Chris Heisey.

In other news:

– The Red Sox and Yankees made inquires on Tuesday, mainly to stay updated on the situation. In addition, the New York Post and ESPN reported that the Blue Jays have expressed interest in Jimenez.

– Sports Illustrated and CSNNE.com each say the Red Sox have interest in backup outfielder Ryan Spilborghs, and the Boston Herald said the Red Sox have inquired about catcher Chris Iannetta and Jimenez, but not Spilborghs.

– The Rockies placed first baseman Jason Giambi on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a left quadriceps strain, which likely will mean he won’t be dealt before the Deadline. However, the Rockies could still deal him after the Deadline by having him pass through waivers. As long as Giambi is with his new team by Sept. 1, he will be eligible for the postseason roster.

– Thomas Harding

Giambi might have to leave to chase ring; Iannetta ignoring rumors

Jason Giambi loves Colorado, but realizes he might have to go elsewhere to chase his goal.

At 40, Giambi signed with the Rockies before the season hoping to win a World Series ring for the first time in his career. But with the team needing a major turnaround now, if not yesterday, to become relevant in the playoff race, general manager Dan O’Dowd recently met with Giambi and acknowledged that some prime playoff contenders have expressed interest in him. The Phillies and the Pirates are known to have expressed interest in Giambi to serve as a left-handed bat off the bench and a first baseman.

Even if he is not dealt before Sunday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline, he can be moved later in a waiver deal. As long as he is on the new team’s roster before Sept. 1, he will be eligible for the postseason roster. Although Giambi is under a regular one-year deal, because of his experience and the respect he has earned from the Rockies, he will be consulted before any trade occurs.

“I’m definitely in open communication with Dan, and I’m open to whatever,” Giambi said. “That’s part of this game. But I love it here. The Colorado fans have been incredible. The front office has been unbelievable. I love Jim Tracy and my teammates. It would definitely have to be the right situation.”

Giambi said he hasn’t thought about whether he’d prefer to continue his current role with a National League team or return to the American League, where he spent his entire career before joining the Rockies in 2009, as a designated hitter. He said the team would need to have a solid plan for days off for him if it is counting on him as part of the first base equation.

Also high on the list of Rockies players who could be moved is catcher Chris Iannetta. The Pirates, a contender, have surfaced as a possibility. The Padres, who aren’t contending but like Iannetta’s experience and ability to reach base, are another team believed to be interested. Iannetta is avoiding following the rumor mill.

“It’s counterproductive,” Iannetta said. “So I just avoid it all together and focus on what I can control.”

Rockies don’t mind Ubaldo pitching winter ball … if he’s still with them

Chances are if the Rockies end up receiving an offer they’ll accept for right-handed pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, it’ll be close or at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. But if the Rockies aren’t blown away and they hold onto him, his preparation for 2011 will be different.

In an interview with the Associated Press on Thursday, Jimenez said he will pitch in the Dominican Winter League for Licey, something he has done for most of his career. The club has been asking some Latin American players to back away from winter ball in recent years, fearing it causes additional wear and tear.

But after Jimenez suffered a cut on his thumb cuticle in Spring Training and also battled leg muscle issues, then missed time early in the year with the cuticle injury, he has decided pitching in the winter actually reduces risk because he is more ready for the season.

“Yeah, for sure it got me ready. This year, when I got to spring training I was getting ready for the season,” Jimenez told the AP. “But a year before when I played winter ball I went to spring training already ready.”

Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd told the AP: “Sounds like a great idea.”

How available is Jimenez, exactly? Jon Heyman of SI.com says via Twitter it’s a “Justin Upton-esque trial balloon.” During the offseason, D-backs general manager Kevin Towers said even Upton was available in a way of saying anything was on the table when it came to improving the club. Of course, the D-backs are a surprise National League West contender, and Upton is a key reason.

In another Trade Deadline-related story, foxsports.com reporter Ken Rosenthal reported on Twitter that teams are interested in backup first baseman and pinch-hitter Jason Giambi, but Giambi would like to stay with the Rockies. According to Rosenthal, the team will consult Giambi before making a deal.

Jimenez makes his case

Ubaldo Jimenez would prefer not to be traded. On Tuesday night he did everything he could to let the Rockies know he wants to stay.

After he struck out nine in 6 2/3 innings of the Rockies’ 12-3 victory over the Braves, he was asked in several different ways if he would do anything to stop the club from dealing him before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Well, he can do most anything on the mound. But when it comes to phone conversations between clubs, that’s where his power ends. He is not a general manager or an owner, and he doesn’t have a no-trade provision in his contract as leverage.

He was asked directly would he tell general manager Dan O’Dowd he doesn’t want to be traded.

“I think he already knows,” Jimenez said with an easy laugh. “But like I said before, they’re going to do anything that’s good for the team.”

While we’re on the good-for-the-team subject, something interesting has arisen during his last two starts. For much of this season, the team didn’t do much when he was on the mound. But in two starts after the break, the Rockies have scored 24 runs. Instead of not scoring runs for Jimenez, they’re not scoring runs for other guys.

What’s fueling all of this is the Rockies are not scoring runs and therefore not winning. To deal him, they’re going to have to get back a package of players who will correct the run problem. But they also need a bona fide starting pitcher. It’s not like there is an Ubaldo tree from which the club can pluck another Jimenez.

The question is whether the Rockies are better off letting Jimenez have his bad first two months of this season, and let the team have a bad year, or is the model so broken that they need to scrap it, even if it costs them a pitcher many said could not be developed by an organization that plays at altitude.

And besides pitching the way he has for nearly two months, Jimenez doesn’t have a say in the matter. Besides, if his pitching shows the Rockies how much they need him, it may encourage another team to make an offer the Rockies cant refuse.

He has two more starts — Sunday at Arizona and next July 30 at San Diego — before the deadline.

“I’ll just do what I’ve done the last five days,” Jimenez said. “Even before this game I had heard a lot of things. I got a lot of text messages, a lot of messages on Facebook asking, ‘Are you going to get traded? It’s the same thing. I’m going to keep doing my thing, keep working hard, showing up to the stadium and being myself.

“It’s a really tough situation. I’ll do anything possible not to think about it, but you’re a human being. Once in a while you’re going to think about it. So once the trade deadline passes, if I’m still here, I’m going to be happy about it. I won’t have to worry about that for a little bit.”

Rockies could be looking to deal, beyond Ubaldo Jimenez

The Rockies have established a high price for right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, one that may scare off most teams. But there could be other deals on the horizon.

The Rockies are willing to deal struggling right-handed pitcher Aaron Cook, who is in the last stages of a $9.25 million salary for this season and has an $11 million option for 2012. But that’s been expected, especially with his struggles and those of the club.

But as the playoffs become a more remote possibility, information is surfacing that the Rockies could be willing to deal any of three key right-handed relievers — closer Huston Street (being paid $7.3 million this year, due for a $7.5 million salary next year and guaranteed a $500,000 buyout on a $9 million player option for 2013), Rafael Betancourt (being paid $4 million this year, $4 million next year and having a $250,000 buyout on a $4.25 million mutual option for 2013) and Matt Belisle (earning $2.35 million this year and $3.775 million next year). If they deal Street, the Rockies can go to righty Matt Lindstrom as closer.

–Thomas Harding

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