Ubaldo Jimenez Could Bolster Yankee Rotation
The New York Yankees struggled mightily as 2013 wore on, particularly in their starting rotation. An uncharacteristically poor season by the ace of their staff, C.C. Sabathia, combined with generally unreliable performances from the rest of the rotation led to a third place finish in the AL East. After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and only the second time in 19 seasons, changes are imminent.
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Among those changes could be the signing of free agent pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez to help solidify a rotation that is in desperate need of quality arms. Jimenez finished the 2013 season on an impressive run of dominance. In the second half he posted a 1.82 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 10.7 K/9 while leading the Indians pitching staff in the wake of a strained oblique muscle by Justin Masterson. However, the Yankees will have to decide whether or not that is the real Jimenez. He struggled throughout the first half of the season and endured one of the most miserable seasons we have ever seen out of a starter in 2012.
Ubaldo Jimenez hit the free agent market earlier this week when he voided his contract and then declined the Indians $14.1-million qualifying offer. Thanks to the insanely large contract handed out to Tim Lincecum by the Giants, many pundits believe Jimenez’s value has been pushed outside of the Indians’ comfort level. It will more than likely take multiple years and a dump truck’s worth of money to secure Jimenez’s services. Enter the Yankees and their never-ending cash reserves.
Of course, thanks to the qualifying offer the Indians made to Jimenez, it will cost the Yankees a compensatory draft pick in order to sign him. If a deal goes down for the for Ubaldo Jimenez, the Yankees would lose their 18th overall pick in the 2014 draft. That’s a big deal for a team whose minor league system has seen better days.
However, there is no guarantee that the Yankees are seriously considering a run at Ubaldo Jimenez. It is likely that he is option C, behind Hiroki Kuroda and Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka. Some reports, depending on who you believe, have made Jimenez even less of a priority. There are rumors circulating that the Yankees may be in pursuit of either Josh Johnson or Dan Haren over Ubaldo Jimenez. Both of them would come with a significantly smaller investment and wouldn’t have the same draft penalty as signing Jimenez.
Meanwhile, the Indians may still try to make an offer to Jimenez for his services, but it is unclear how serious any offer may be. The Indians more than likely are not looking to tie themselves up in a multi-year deal with any player for the type of money Jimenez will be commanding. Throw in his sketchy past couple of seasons and it is hard to see the Indians pulling the trigger.
Scott Kazmir remains a possible option, but recent reports indicate that the Twins may be making a serious run at his services. In order to bring him back to Cleveland for a second go around, the Indians may be forced into a situation where they would have to outbid another team. There are also rumors swirling that the Indians might also be interested in Dan Haren, Tim Hudson, or even willing to bring back Bartolo Colon on a one year deal.