After spending the entire offseason looking for a veteran starting pitcher, the Orioles have finally found their man.
Multiple outlets are reporting that the Orioles have agreed in principle to a four-year deal with free-agent pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, who most recently pitched for the Cleveland Indians. According to MASN, the deal is believed to be in the neighborhood of $48 million, pending a physical.
The 30-year-old Jimenez went 13-9 with a 3.30 earned run average and 1.33 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) in 32 starts spanning 182 2/3 innings this past season and carries a career 82-75 mark with a 3.92 ERA in eight major league seasons spent with the Colorado Rockies and Cleveland. Because the Indians made Jimenez a qualifying offer at the beginning of the offseason, the Orioles will forfeit their first-round pick — the 17th overall selection — to bring the veteran right-hander into the fray.
The deal would go against the Orioles’ long-held practice of not giving an outside free-agent pitcher a four-year contract, but Jimenez would bring the veteran presence long considered a priority by executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette. Jimenez has shown plenty of durability in his career, making 31 or more starts in each of the last six seasons despite only reaching the 200-inning plateau twice in his career.
Jimenez possesses a four-seam fastball, a two-seamer, splitter, changeup, and slider, but his mechanics have often been a challenge in his big-league career as he’s averaged 4.0 walks per nine innings pitched. His high strikeout rate in addition to his walk totals are the biggest reasons why he’s struggled to pitch deep into games throughout his career.
The Dominican native rebounded nicely in 2013 after the worst season of his career a year earlier when he went 9-17 with a 5.40 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP. His best season came while pitching for Colorado in 2010 when he was 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA and finished third in National League Cy Young Award voting.