Ubaldo Jimenez Should Return in 2014
Yesterday, Michael Chaney presented an argument for why the Indians should allow Ubaldo Jimenez to walk away via free agency. While his logic was sound, and for all intents and purposes the correct decision, there is another side to that proverbial coin. The Indians still have the option to bring back Ubaldo Jimenez. Here is the argument for why that decision might make sense.
Take a look at the current state of the Indians starting rotation. Following the exodus of Scott Kazmir, the pending contract situation with Justin Masterson, and the uncertainty surrounding Josh Tomlin, Trevor Bauer, and Carlos Carrasco, there isn’t a whole lot to bank on moving forward. At some point, the Indians will need to make a decision in regards to their starting rotation and how they can possibly improve it moving forward.
Why not then invest heavily in Ubaldo Jimenez? While the price tag associated with bringing Jimenez back will undoubtedly be a bit costly, there has never been more money readily available for teams to spend thanks largely in part to the new revenue streams that have resulted from the lucrative new television contracts. As we have seen this offseason already, teams are falling all over themselves to spend absurd amounts of money on pitchers who are marginal talents at best. If you are the Indians, why not go after a pitcher that has demonstrated previously in his career that he could be an ace and regained that form during the second half of 2013.
Yes, there is uncertainty surrounding Jimenez. After all, we saw first hand in 2011 and 2012 just how bad he can be when his mechanics are out of whack. But, under the tutelage of Mickey Callaway and the management of Terry Francona, Jimenez was able to find the form that made him one of the most formidable starting pitchers in all of baseball. With the same staff returning in 2014 and the foreseeable future, why not then invest in Jimenez?
There is also the age factor. Ubaldo Jimenez will be 30 years old at the start of the 2014 season. That is by no means young, but it is also not so old that it could be cause for major concern. With the state of modern medicine and training techniques as advanced as they are, there is no reason not to expect Jimenez to pitch at a high level for at least another three to four years and at a competent level for another two years after that. Could the Indians therefore sign Jimenez to a multi-year deal worth considerable money and worry about the ramifications of the deal later on? Certainly they could. After all, they appear to be taking the same approach with Michael Bourn.
Lastly, and not to beat a dead horse, there is the issue of Justin Masterson’ pending contract decision. While Masterson is clearly the safer and better option between the two, there is no guarantee that the Indians will be able to extend him in order to keep him in an Indians uniform beyond the 2014 season. Masterson could very well decide to wait until after the season to test the free agent waters. If he turns in another season like he did in 2013, he could be in for a massive payday, larger than even Ubaldo Jimenez’s.
Can the Indians simply afford to let another ace walk away via free agency? While they will receive a compensatory pick in exchange for Ubaldo Jimenez, random player X will by no means be prepared to make the same type of impact as Ubaldo Jimenez. Why not then take a chance and roll the dice on signing Jimenez to a long-term deal? If the Indians want to compete they need to be bold and be willing to take chances. Signing Ubaldo Jimenez to a long-term deal would be the ultimate high risk decision that could return a massive payday in the form of wins and future success.