Ubaldo Jimenez continues to remain available on the open market, like numerous other free agent starting pitchers, until it becomes more clear where high profile Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka may land. For Jimenez and the rest of this group (which includes Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, and Bronson Arroyo) there’s little they can do but wait. Jimenez, however, may still have some trouble finding a place to pitch in 2014 in recent reports are true regarding what he’s been seeking in a potential new deal. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer touched on the subject in a mailbag post on Tuesday:
Depending on who signs Masahiro Tanaka, I think Jimenez could sign with Toronto, the Yankees, or Arizona. I still think it’s a long shot that he’ll return to the Indians.
The last thing I heard is that he wanted $17 million to $20 million per year over a four year deal. That’s not going to happen in Cleveland.
$17-20 Million a year, over four years. That’s a deal that’s not going to happen in Cleveland or anywhere else, for that matter.
Speculation about where Jimenez could land has been mixed this winter. The New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays have both been mentioned as potential suitors, as have the Baltimore Orioles. The Cleveland Indians are also believed to have interest in bringing Jimenez back. None have emerged as a potential favorite. The Minnesota Twins were the only other team linked to interest, but they’ve since signed Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes which would likely take them out of the market for another starter.
Some have speculated that Jimenez could be the “runner up prize” for whichever team fails to land Tanaka in the coming weeks. Jimenez will turn 30 before the start of Spring Training and has been relatively reliable, having thrown 176.2 or more innings in each of the past six seasons. His stuff just simply isn’t overpowering, however, and with a quirky delivery there’s ample reason to believe that he could end up being an injury risk with a consistently heavy workload, likely limiting team’s interest in giving him a long term deal. He’s coming off a strong season in 2013 in which he posted a 3.30 ERA and 1.330 WHIP over 182.2 IP, adding a career best 9.6 K/9, but the Indians did extend a qualifying offer (which he declined) following the year. Jimenez is tied to the loss of a draft pick, which could further hurt his market as things begin to play out over the coming weeks.