Jimenez officially an Oriole
The Orioles made one of the biggest moves in organizational history official on Wednesday afternoon, announcing a four-year, $50-million contract with right-handed pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez.
To make room on the 40-man roster for Jimenez, the team designated right-handed pitcher Liam Hendriks for assignment. There will be a press conference to formally unveil Jimenez, who has spent the past 2 1/2 seasons in Cleveland, on Thursday morning.
“He brings something we are in need of,” manager Buck Showalter said of Jimenez, who will slot right into the team’s rotation and make for tough competition for the fifth spot. “[He’s got] some good seasons behind him and ahead of him. He’s got a chance to be a quality pitcher for us for a long period of time. A lot of guys at this stage in their career start figuring it out and I’ve very confident in he and [pitching coach] Dave [Wallace]. I think he’s going to give us some quality innings.”
Jimenez is coming off a solid 2013 in which he went 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA in 32 starts and he got better as the season went on. Jimenez posted a 1.82 ERA in the season’s second half, while striking out 10.7 hitters per nine innings. With Cleveland in a tight Wild Card race, Jimenez went 4-0 with a 1.09 ERA in six September outings — all quality starts.
“I think we all are [happy for him],” Indians manager Terry Francona said of Jimenez’s deal with Baltimore. “The only time we won’t pull for him is when we’re playing against him. He’s a great kid and the way he persevered, and got on a run last year at the end of the year, really helped us try to get to where we wanted to go.”
Jimenez’s best season came in 2010, when he went 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA for the Rockies and finished third overall in the National League Cy Young Award voting. After struggling through the first half of the ’11 season, Jimenez was dealt to the Indians at the non-waiver Trade Deadline for a package of prospects. He continued to struggle in Cleveland, posting a 5.10 ERA in the final two months of 2011, before leading the league in losses in ’12.
The success of the Orioles’ four-year pact will hinge on keeping Jimenez consistent as the right-hander was considered a risk, but still one of the better free agent arms on the market.
“It goes to show that it’s a good market and he’s a good player. He did great things,” Indians pitcher Justin Masterson said of Jimenez’s new contract. “I think for [Baltimore], they believe in what he did there in the second half, and he’s going to be able to continue to do that. I think that was the hardest thing for teams to do — with any player. Is this what we’re going to get or is it not? It takes someone to say, ‘All right. This is what we’re going to get.’ I thought he got a great deal for himself and I think in his mind he wanted the four years, and to know he’ll be in a spot.”