ORIOLES SIGN JIMENEZ TO 4YR/$50MM DEAL

OriolesFinally, after all that has happened in this eventful offseason, the one player I was watching most closely has signed a new deal. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez proved that he knows the old saying “timing is everything” by having a lights-out second half of the 2013 season, heading into free agency.

After much activity in the pitching market, including the Yankees landing Masahiro Tanaka from Japan, Jimenez signed on with the Baltimore Orioles today for a four-year/$50MM contract. Given everything that has gone on in Jimenez’ mercurial 8-year career, that’s a pretty good score for the big right-hander.

Jimenez is one of my favorite players in MLB because his presence on the mound signals an “anything goes” warning. He has been electric for extended periods but has also been very bad over prolonged stretches of time. Born in the Dominican Republic, Jimenez had one of the great first-half runs in recent memory in 2010, going 15-1 for Colorado and earning the start in the All-Star Game for the National League.

Then Jimenez struggled to a 4-7 record the rest of the way, failing to win 20 games. The following season, the Rockies traded Ubaldo to the Indians.

3 years in Cleveland saw Jimenez go 26-30, but that 2010 first-half form was back in the second half of the 2013 season. After going 7-4 before the All-Star break, Jimenez posted a 6-5 mark in the second half, but his peripherals took a quantum leap. His WHIP dropped from 1.490 to 1.143 while his K/BB ratio improved from 1.77 to 3.70. Ubaldo’s ERA sunk from 4.56 to 1.82.

So, where does that get Baltimore?

The Orioles haven’t had a great offseason, relatively speaking, and they definitely needed some starting pitching. Is Jimenez the guy to fill that void? How could we possibly know?

Ubaldo Jimenez has consistently pitched 180 innings or more, and that is good. But how he has performed in those innings has been all over the map. I love dominant Ubaldo. I cringe when I see erratic Ubaldo. I think most of us do.

Let’s see how this plays out for the Orioles.