Aug 17, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Multiple exposure photo of Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez (30) pitching the ball against the Oakland Athletics during the sixth inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Blue Jays MLB Free Agent Targets: Pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez


Name: Ubaldo Jimenez
Position: Starting Pitcher

Stats:

Year W L ERA G IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ WHIP BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2006 0 0 3.52 2 7.2 5 3 1 3 3 145 1.043 3.5 3.5 1.00
2007 4 4 4.28 15 82.0 70 39 10 37 68 112 1.305 4.1 7.5 1.84
2008 12 12 3.99 34 198.2 182 88 11 103 172 118 1.435 4.7 7.8 1.67
2009 15 12 3.47 33 218.0 183 84 13 85 198 136 1.229 3.5 8.2 2.33
2010 19 8 2.88 33 221.2 164 71 10 92 214 161 1.155 3.7 8.7 2.33
2011 10 13 4.68 32 188.1 186 98 17 78 180 93 1.402 3.7 8.6 2.31
2012 9 17 5.40 31 176.2 190 106 25 95 143 72 1.613 4.8 7.3 1.51
2013 13 9 3.30 32 182.2 163 67 16 80 194 114 1.330 3.9 9.6 2.43
8 Yrs 82 75 3.92 212 1275.2 1143 556 103 573 1172 112 1.345 4.0 8.3 2.05
162 Game Avg. 13 12 3.92 34 205 184 89 17 92 188 112 1.345 4.0 8.3 2.05
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/4/2013.

Background:

29-year-old right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez is a perfect example of what difference a year can make. Heading into the 2013 campaign, the one-time ace of the Colorado Rockies was on his way to being labeled a lost cause after back-to-back of years of struggling with control and reduced strike-out rates. All that lead to a league-leading 17 losses and a sky-high 5.40 ERA and 4.85 SIERA in 2012. Needless to say, Indians fans were grumbling about what they’d lost when the team traded Joe Gardner, Alex White, Matt McBride, and Drew Pomeranz to the Rockies to acquire Jimenez in 2011.

Things got off to a rocky (no pun intended) start again in 2013, when Jimenez was lit up to the tune of a 7.13 ERA in April, surrendering 19 hits and 19 runs in 24 innings pitched. However, his last start of the month, 7 innings of shut-out baseball against the Kansas City Royals, gave Jimenez a glimmer of hope, and he ran with it.

From April 29th through the end of the season, Jimenez pitched out of his mind. During that 28 start run, he posted a 13-7 record, a 2.61 ERA, a 9.75 K/9 ratio, and seven game scores of 70 or higher. When the year wrapped, Ubaldo Jimenez had authored a nice bounce-back season, registering a 13-9 record with a 3.30 ERA, a 9.6 K/9 ratio, and a vastly improved and career high 2.43 K/BB ratio. What’s more important is that his performance does not appear to be a fluke, as his SIERA (3.74), tERA (3.59), and his xFIP (3.62) are all jsut a small bump higher than his ERA figure.

Projection:

Unfortunately for the Indians, the trade from Colorado came with one caveat. By being traded, Jimenez’s final option year could be voided by the pitcher should he want to test the market. Given the fact that he is the youngest significant available starter on a weak market and coming off of a bounce-back season, it was only a matter of procedure when Jimenez voided that option on Friday November 1st. The Indians kindly responded by extending a qualifying offer to Jimenez on Monday, putting a draft pick price tag on his head should another team choose to sign him.

The deal signed by Tim Lincecum (2 years, $35 million) likely creates a larger market for Jimenez than one would normally assume, but that won’t stop would be suitors from lining up. The Blue Jays are likely to be one of them, and with two protected first round picks, the loss of a second round pick won’t likely scare them away.

That said, the price tag for Jimenez is likely to be significant, even with the rough patch prior to last season. MLB Trade Rumors, in their most recent Free Agent Rankings, used Edwin Jackson‘s 4-year, $52 million deal as a starting point. That’s probably a fair assessment, although Jimenez obviously has a leg up on Jackson in terms of career performance.

One interesting thing to take into consideration in regards to his viability in Toronto is Park Factor. Jimenez will be leaving a park in Cleveland that ranked 22nd in ESPN’s Park Factor in terms of runs scored last season, compared to Rogers Centre which ranked 4th. That may be mitigated in negotiations by the fact that Jimenez pitched the first several seasons of his career in Coors Field, where pitcher go to die, and had decent success. One thing that will surely help his case is a career 1.32 Ground-out to Air-Out ratio.

That all said, Jimenez may be the fourth most targeted pitcher on the market, behind Masahiro Tanaka, Ervin Santana, and Matt Garza. Still, he may be the most feasible, and most likely, to come to Toronto via free agency. His resilience alone will make him appealing to an injury plagued Blue Jays staff, as Jimenez has made 30 or more starts each of the last 6 seasons, something only two Jays starters managed to do a season ago.

In the end, I see Jimenez likely scoring a deal worth about $15 million per season over the course of four years. Going past four season, even for a 30-year-old pitcher without durability issues, would be a reach in today’s pitching market. Given that the Blue Jays will not extend Josh Johnson a qualifying offer this winter, that might not be as rich as it sounds for Toronto to take on.

Still, it remains to be seen whether or not the Blue Jays will be major players in the free agent market, something they have refrained from under Alex Anthopoulos. If they are, Jimenez will likely be a name they are attached to throughout the winter.

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  • Andrew van Laar

    Is it just me or is everyone else terrified of any and all transactions other than ones for guys who are perennial studs? Last year has me was wishy washy as a wet noodle when it comes to going after guys with a few question marks.

    That being said, I think $14+ for Ubaldo is high for my liking (plus lost of a draft pick in a deep draft year). I would rather go after someone else for that money. Who? I do not know but I am sure there are other options.

  • Kyle Franzoni

    Agreed. If last year did anything, it jaded us all on anything that isn’t a sure thing. Then again, maybe I’m just being noncommittal so that I don’t get called out on it later.

  • Doug Hall

    I like Jimenez and I like he is the best choice out there. Lets get this thing started.

  • Bob Loblaw

    Jimenez may have much better injury risk than Johnson, but in terms of the actual value you get from them, their performance risk is pretty similar, in my opinion. I mean, what good is it that Ubaldo can stay healthy if the control issues return?

    I’d be happy with either, whoevers cheaper, but I still think a more reliable starter has to be brought in, like Feldman, Arroyo, Colon. If we’re seriously talking about contending, then I’d feel much more confident with 3 reliable innings eaters and 2 high risk/high reward, instead of 2 and 3.

    Happ, not having options and with the pen crowded, could be trade bait once the FA scene settles down and teams figure out whether they need a #4 or 5 starter. I could also see a run at Dioner Navarro for less than 5m.

    • RyanMueller

      I agree…good comment. I have the same concerns with Ubaldo. He has only had one really really good season, which so happened to be half seasons of two separate seasons. The first half when he was with the ROckies and the second half of this season. Other than that he was average. I wouldn’t even sign in a video game.

      • Bob Loblaw

        It’s great that he’s had success in hitters parks, albeit a few years ago but experience matters, and coming off a successful year where he ended looking better and better makes him look more appealing than Johnson, but I mean his career streakiness can’t be forgotten and he’ll be more expensive than JJ.

        • RyanMueller

          when you are right your right.

  • RQAries

    It’s like signing Ricky Romero all over again…