Baltimore Orioles: Is there room for Jimenez?


Photo: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
Ubaldo Jimenez’s career as an Oriole obviously didn’t start out the way he wanted, and obviously wasn’t what Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter envisioned when he was given 50 million to suit up for the Orioles. Jimenez ended the 2014 season with a 4.81 ERA and a 6-9 record, and by September had lost his spot in the rotation.

For the last few weeks of the season the Orioles used the extended September roster to hide Jimenez deep in the bullpen. However, on opening day the Orioles will return to the standard 25-man roster, and if the Orioles want to keep Jimenez they’ll have to sacrifice one the precious few roster spots.

Barring any injury or late-spring move, the rotation looks to be completely set. The only question mark may be Kevin Gausman in the 5-spot. However, at this point it seems it would take a colossally bad spring to envision the Gausman not in the rotation come opening day.

He has too much talent and pitched too well last season to be wasted pilling up more glowing numbers in AAA Norfolk. The Orioles probably won’t say it publicly during spring training, but they’re going to give Gausman the ball every fifth day and hope he becomes what they think he’s capable of.

That being said, if Jimenez were to make the club it would have to be in a bullpen role. The obvious problem with that scenario is trying to determine what kind of role he would have there. His inability to consistently throw strikes eliminates him from any late-inning role, and in reality the Orioles currently have better options.

His background as a starter would indicate he could be slatted for a long-relief role, but again the Orioles have better options in T.J McFarland and Brad Brach. Also, it’s hard to imagine the Orioles cutting that large of a paycheck for a long reliever.

Another factor in Jimenez’s future with the Orioles could be their Rule-5 selections. This season the Orioles added two players with the draft, Logan Verrett and Jason Garcia. It’s hard to imagine both players making the opening day roster, but as we’ve seen in the past Duquette values the Rule-5 draft. It’s easy to assume he will attempt to keep at least one on the roster.

If the Orioles attempt to keep at least one, it will be probably be in a similar fashion as they did two seasons ago with T.J. Macfarland. Meaning they will attempt to hide him in the bullpen and use him in low-pressure situations as he gains big-league experience. That move would affect Jimenez in two ways. One, it’s another roster spot filled in an already crowded roster. Two, that’s relatively the same role Jimenez had at the end of last season.

It’s discouraging to see one of the few marque free-agent signings the Orioles have made end so badly. However, at this point it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Jimenez makes the team. No matter how you look at it at this point the roster is just better without him on it.