The Baltimore Orioles have lurked quietly in the bushes throughout much of the Major League offseason. Up until the last week or so, we haven’t had any reason to think that they’d make any sort of free agent splash, as all signs pointed to the O’s not willing to spend the cash or surrender the draft pick necessary to reign in one of the top pitchers available on the market. That looks like it could be changing within the next several hours.
The Orioles are reportedly nearing an agreement with free agent starter Ubaldo Jimenez. This comes just days after the Orioles said that they were rethinking their position on surrendering draft picks in order to sign one of the top pitchers available, with those options being Jimenez or Ervin Santana. It was also believed that the Orioles were not willing to spend the cash to sign either one. That appears to have changed as well.
The reported agreement that the two are nearing is for four years and in the neighborhood of $48 million, which would take this deal into almost identical territory as the one fellow free agent starter Matt Garza signed with the Milwaukee Brewers a couple of weeks ago. The O’s were reported to be interested in Jimenez much earlier in the offseason, but nothing came of it. With a clear need for an impact starter, though, Baltimore may have finally realized that surrendering the draft picks that would have come with signing one of Jimenez or Santana was necessary.
In reality, there isn’t much of a difference between signing one or the other. Each poses significant upside, but also comes with plenty of risk. In the case of Jimenez, he’s only a year removed from a disastrous 2012 season, before rebounding a big way in the second half of 2013. His second half of 2013 featured a 1.82 ERA and an opposing batting average of just .219. He went for a 3.30 ERA and a 3.62 FIP on the year, solid numbers to be sure.
If Ubaldo Jimenez comes out with some more of that second half for the Orioles, assuming this deal gets done, then the draft pick is absolutely worth surrendering. At the same time, though, there’s a reason he’s still a free agent at this point in February. Stay tuned.
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