Aug 29, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez (30) throws a pitch against the Atlanta Braves in the first inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Indians Days of Future Past: Ubaldo Jimenez


Like every other team in Major League Baseball, the Cleveland Indians employ numerous players throughout their organization, from the big-league club in Cleveland to their rookie league team in Arizona and beyond. And like every other Major League franchise, the Indians add and subtract from this player pool on a regular basis. This irregular series will serve to post notice when a former Indians player has done something noteworthy with a quick look back at the player’s time in Cleveland.

Player: Ubaldo Jimenez

Current Team: Baltimore Orioles

Year(s) in Indians Organization: 2011-2013

What He Did:

For the first two plus seasons after being traded from Colorado to the Indians in exchange for prized pitching prospects Drew Pomeranz & Alex White, Ubaldo Jimenez was the whipping boy for Cleveland Indians fans.  Sporting an ERA over 5.00 for his first two seasons, fans had begun to clamor for his complete ousting from the roster.  However, after all of his failures during his tenure with the Indians, Jimenez was one of the most vital cogs in the Indians’ playoff run in 2013.

Over his final eight starts of the 2013 season, Jimenez left the mound carrying a 1.66 ERA, 1.28 FIP & a 7:1 K/BB ratio.  It was an eight start run of domination that Cleveland had not seen since Cliff Lee’s Cy Young campaign of 2008.  Prior to that, no pitcher since the turn of the millennium has had such a dominating stretch on the mound of Progressive Field.  Jimenez’s terrorizing of major league hitters did not come against the most potent of offenses.  Outside of Baltimore, Jimenez faced some of the most anemic offenses in baseball.  Even the Braves, who ranked 13th in MLB in runs scored in 2013, went up against Jimenez without two of their best hitters – Freddie Freeman & Jason Heyward.

Date Opponent MLB rank – runs
9/29 @ Twins 25th
9/24 vs. White Sox 29th
9/19 vs. Astros 26th
9/14 @ White Sox 29th
9/9 vs. Royals 18th
9/3 vs. Orioles 5th
8/29 @ Braves 13th
8/23 vs. Twins 25th

Why He Isn’t Still in Cleveland:

The Indians won every game that Jimenez pitched in September as he led the Indians to their first playoff berth since 2007.  For better or for worse, Jimenez seemingly had pitched his way right out of the Indians’ salary range.

Jimenez endured a long wait prior to signing with the Baltimore during the second week of Spring Training.  On the heels of his dazzling final two months of the season, Jimenez inked a 4-year, $48 million deal with the O’s.  Had he not been tied to draft pick compensation, who knows what type of money his new employer, the Baltimore Orioles, or some other team would’ve thrown at him in hopes of him filling a void in their rotation.

What the Future Holds:

The question always persists after a player leaves free agency of whether the team is better or worse off without him.  Below are Jimenez’s statistics along with the Indians starting pitchers, who have filled the void left by Jimenez’s departure (through 6/25).  While it is difficult to quantify exactly which starts would have been made by Jimenez and which would have been made by various Indians, it is safe to say that the three starting pitchers who have taken Jimenez’s innings as a starter this year were the three men that were in competition during Spring Training for the 5th starter spot – Carlos Carrasco, Josh Tomlin & Trevor Bauer.

 

ERA W L K/9
Tribe 4.62 6 10 8.40
Ubaldo 4.63 2 8 7.79

 

Jimenez’s 4.63 ERA is earning $11.25 million, while the Indians’ triumvirate that is sporting a strikingly similar 4.62 ERA is making less than $2 million combined.  The Indians took the extra cash and not only turned it into arbitration raises, but were able to extend several of the key members of the Indians’ core over the offseason.  Had the Indians signed Jimenez, one of Michael Brantley, Yan Gomes or Jason Kipnis would certainly not have been signed to the long-term deal that they reached in the offseason.

In Jimenez’s fifteen starts this season, the Orioles have a mere three wins.  At this pace, the Orioles will be paying Jimenez $2 million dollars for every win he pulls in, while the Indians will not be paying any of Jimenez’s replacements $2 million for the entire season.  Sometimes, the best free agent signings are the ones that you do not make.

Notice a player you remember being in the Indians organization? We’re ever-vigilant, but sometimes we miss guys, too! Send us an email at [email protected] and let us know which former Indians farmhand or player is making noise elsewhere.

 

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