So Ubaldo Jimenez will be coming to the Baltimore Orioles…pending a physical. There do not appear to be any outward issues with Jimenez that would raise concerns, but you never know. So assuming that his physical comes back clean, Ubaldo Jimenez is the Orioles’ newest starting pitcher. For the record, Jimenez’s contract is worth four years, $50 million – so he’ll be making just over $12 million a year. This marks the first time that the Orioles have signed a free agent for longer than three years since Miguel Tejada (the first time around).
First off, let me state that I think this is a good move for the organization. At 30 years old, the O’s have more of a reason to offer him a longer term deal than they would have say Bronson Arroyo or A.J. Burnett. However regardless of how much they’re paying Jimenez or for how long, he adds a big piece to the Orioles’ rotation. In no particular order, I suspect that now the rotation will be Tillman, Jimenez, Chen, Norris, and Gonzalez. I put Miguel Gonzalez’s name in italics because it’s probably interchangeable with various folks- including Kevin Gausman and Zach Britton. Suk-min Yoon will probably end up in the bullpen, which could mean he’ll end up a long man in relief. This gives the Orioles a lot of depth in pitching, which could provide for them being in a position of strength in terms of having trade chips at the deadline this summer.
Granted Jimenez had an ERA north of three last year, he was dominant in the second half of the season for Cleveland. It’s also worth noting that if you put Jimenez in front of the Orioles’ defense (which statistically the best in MLB history last year), that earned run total might go down a bit. However there’s also the prospect of pitching in the AL East, which has been a concern in the past for free agents in terms of signing with anyone but Boston and New York. (I would still submit that more than anything else, Arroyo and Burnett didn’t want to pitch in the AL East as opposed to simply not wanting to pitch in the American League.)
Most pundits nationwide are lauding the Orioles for this deal, as it’s a quality starting pitcher for a decent number of years at a bargain price. When you figure that former Oriole Scott Feldman signed with Houston for three years and $30 million, I’d say it’s a pretty good deal – on paper. (Obviously Jimenez is making more than Feldman, but not by much; and Jimenez is a better pitcher.) But obviously the true worth of the deal will not be known until Jimenez starts pitching for the Orioles. Heck, the real worth of the deal might not be known until next season for all we know. However on paper this signing makes the Orioles a better team, and a better team than they were at the end of last season at that. The O’s are expected to formally announce the Suk-min Yoon signing at a press conference today in Sarasota; they could also announce the signing of Jimenez, if he’s already passed the Orioles’ physical. However the timing of any of that remains unclear.