Sources on Twitter are reporting that the Baltimore Orioles are close to finalizing a deal for Ubaldo Jimenez that will pay the right hander $48 million dollars over four years, for an average annual value of $12 million a year. The good news is that the Orioles will surrender the 17th pick in the upcoming draft to the Indians for signing Jimenez away.

Assuming these reports are true, I can’t help but sit here and be a little disappointed. I know Ubaldo is not the guy we saw from July through the end of the season last year, but I also know he’s probably not the 5.00+ ERA guy we saw the years before that, either. The Orioles got an above-average starter (with a better pedigree than that) for a relatively cheap deal, and I’m left wondering where the Indians were in all this.

Obviously, the Orioles signing is best-case-scenario for the Indians from a draft pick perspective; the 17th pick is a very valuable commodity both in terms of the talent pool but in terms of financial flexibility going forward. The Indians now have an increased budget with which to sign draft picks, significantly moreso than if they had gotten a sandwich or 2nd round pick from the Mariners or Blue Jays. It’s a net-positive for the franchise.


I can’t help but look at that deal and think that Ubaldo should still be in a Cleveland uniform. The Indians offered the right hander a 14-million dollar contract in order to establish draft pick compensation and then watched one of the best free agents waltz into Baltimore for less money per year than that. It doesn’t make sense.

It also doesn’t make sense to prioritize the draft when the team is ostensibly aligned to compete right now in 2014, either. I know, I know, the team is setting itself up for the future, and because of this deal there likely won’t be a total bottoming out of the roster in 2016 or 2017 (look at the 2004 and 2009 Indians to see what I mean), but I think the team in 2014 is diminished because Ubaldo will not be there.

This means the Indians will head into 2014 with a rotation with some very big question marks. More question marks than they even had in 2013, when the rotation was supposed to be a huge weakness for the team. As of today, the rotation looks like this:

SP1: Masterson
SP2: McAllister
SP3: Kluber
SP4: Salazar
SP5: Carrasco? Bauer? Marcum?

I would much rather have that cavalcade of question marks outside of our top five starters. While Bauer or Carrasco or even Marcum might be serviceable, the Indians are setting themselves up to rely on two or even all three of those names to come up with big innings this season. It may well work out, but this feels like a recipe for disaster.

Considering Ubaldo went into this offseason dreaming of $20 million a year, I can’t help but think that $12million a year should have been the kind of deal the Indians swooped in to offer in about this time… not Baltimore.

Like the move (or lack thereof) from the Indians? Share/Vent/Talk/Chat below.


EDIT: As stated below in the top comment by Steve, the Orioles lose the 17th pick but the Indians just pick up a sandwich round pick between the 1st and 2nd… yippee.


  • Gvl Steve says:

    I share your disappointment. $12M per year is a bargain for an established starter, and draft picks don’t help you win now, something this team is supposedly built to do. Also, Baltimore surrenders the 17th pick, but the Indians don’t get it. They get a comp pick after the end of round one. Considering our draft record, I harbor no illusions that a mid-30s pick will have a greater impact than Jimenez would have had. Then again, Ubaldo could go back to the 5.50 ERA version and the team might draft the next Jason Kipnis with the pick, so what do I know?

  • Sean Porter says:

    Allow me to play devil’s advocate: Let’s say that I would have told you, Adam, last year in May that a team would sign Ubaldo Jimenez to a four year deal for $48 million after the season.

    What would your reaction had been, after watching Ubaldo pitch for the Tribe in ’11, ’12 and the first two months of 2013?

    I would have loved to have signed Ubaldo for one more year, but I’ll let the O’s worry about him not reverting back to the 2011 and 2012 version for four guaranteed years.

    • Adam Hintz says:

      There’s two ways to answer you: the jerk way and the honest way.

      First, the jerk way:
      “Well, Sean, if you told me the Orioles signed Jimenez to that contract THIS offseason, I would probably feel roughly the same way, because it means Ubaldo or the Indians declined the mutual option. No way do the Indians or Jimenez decline that unless he puts up a 6.00 ERA, and if he does that, he’s not getting a contract that size.”

      Now, the honest way:
      “Fair point, fair point. Touche.”

      Though he did show signs of turning it around early this season, and that’s why I believe in him now. I remarked to anyone that would listen that May 2013 Ubaldo seemed to be a guy who knew who he was, but hadn’t learned to pitch like it yet. By August he had mastered the pitcher he had become since his glory days in Colorado… at least, that’s the glass half full version of the story.

      Truthfully, I’d pay $12 million a year for Ervin Santana if I didn’t have to give up a draft pick, so I would certainly say the same for Ubaldo. It’s a confluence of things: the contention window, the depth on the team, and the success Ubaldo had last season. The Indians were (or should have been) the most desperate team for Ubaldo, and they should never have let him walk.

      Hey, I don’t like having my team saddled to Ubaldo Jimenez, Ace Pitcher any more than the next guy, but the Indians didn’t save much choice in the matter when they traded for him three years ago. With the team presumably so close, you HAVE to roll the dice on Jimenez repeating last year’s magic, don’t you?

  • Sean Porter says:

    That’s a really tough call Adam, I get what you are saying though. On one side of the coin, Shapiro and Antonetti could have said: “Look, our time for contention is now. If we resign Ubaldo our rotation should be rock-solid”.

    On the other side of the coin, it’s Ubaldo Jimenez. First, they would be banking on a guy who gave them four fantastic months out of his whole run with the Indians. Second, this is a small market team who is attempting to sign Justin Masterson and Jason Kipnis to long extensions. Guaranteeing Ubaldo $12 mill a year might make that even harder than it already will be.

    It’s instances like this that make me laugh my ass off at Yankee and Red Sox fans who contend that “it’s just as hard for our GMs as it is yours!”

    • Adam Hintz says:

      Another thing I don’t understand… it seems like the Indians walked away from the table early on and never came back. This is really the part I can’t fathom… why?

      Why not throw a lowball figure out there: 3years/$30mil and never improve it… at least you could say you tried?

      The Indians never wanted anything out of Ubaldo other than a draft pick, and given the depth on the team right now, that blows my mind.

  • Cale says:

    For the comment “The Indians offered the right hander a 14-million dollar contract in order to establish draft pick compensation and then watched one of the best free agents waltz into Baltimore for less money per year than that. It doesn’t make sense.”…it’s the years that matter. If he’d have taken the qualifying offer and became the Ubaldo from 2012, he’d have lost out on much more. Turning down the qualifying offer was still a no-brainer on his part to get $50M guaranteed, vs $14M.

    On a slightly different note, seeing Garza and Ubaldo getting 4 year deals worth $50M, think that gives the Tribe leverage in negotiations with Masterson on a long term deal?

    • Adam Hintz says:

      No, because Masterson… bless his little heart, is not worth as much as Ubaldo, but I don’t think he’ll ever agree with me on that.

      • Quincy Wheeler says:

        By what measure do you make this statement, Adam? WAR? Jimenez the past 3 years: 1.9 WAR (2.7 last year). Masterson: 7.8 (3.4 last year). Wins? Jimenez past 3 years: 26 wins. Masterson: 37. ERA, Strikeouts, Innings pitched, none of that is even close. And Masterson is a year younger. So… not exactly sure how you have come to this conclusion.

        • Adam Hintz says:

          Mostly because I think Good Ubaldo is the best pitcher on the team (though really, we don’t know if he’s real)… also I think that Masterson’s weakness to left handed hitters is a fatal flaw that good teams can exploit. I think Masterson is a really good #2 guy, and Ubaldo is an average #1.

          That said, Masterson does have the impressive resume you just mentioned. He does find success, I can’t deny him that.

          Fair point, though.

          • Quincy Wheeler says:

            That makes sense. However, I guess I would argue that Masterson has shown #1 potential. Look at his complete games from last year. I would argue he’s more of a number 1 than Jimenez, but it is somewhat of a matter of opinion. Thanks for responding

  • medfest says:

    Jimenez has a lot of talent and mechanics that give pitching coaches nightmares.
    The Orioles have taken on acceptable risk for the money they’re giving Ubaldo,no more ,no less.
    Four years of holding your breath every time he takes the mound,wondering which Ubaldo will show up….yikes.
    We sure seem to have short memories in this town.
    The Indians were smart to pass on Ubaldo and hopefully will do the same with Masterson.Locking up significant (for the Tribe) money in inconsistent starters is just not the wisest way to spend limited assets.

  • Steve T. says:

    For me, it’s not the money but the years. That’s a long time to have a guy sucking up payroll if he doesn’t produce. It’s bad enough when it’s a DH like Hafner, but at least you could work around that to some extent by giving at-bats to someone who might be at least a little better. What do you do if you end up with a guy you can’t dump who is almost guaranteed to lose you a game every five days if he stinks? You could argue that the guy we’ll roll out there in his place might be even worse, but at that point you can at least try someone else and cut your losses. It’s hard to bench a guy making 12 Million bucks a year. Frankly, if I have to listen to the front office and coaching staff tell us about all the “adjustments” they are making to a guy’s delivery in order to “get him turned around”, at least it’ll be a different guy if the first one doesn’t come around in a month or two. Sooner or later one of them will be at least “not dreadful”. I’d rather see the guys we currently have slotted 5-8 in the rotation depth chart battle it out than watch the same guy blow game after game all summer long.

    I know, maybe Ubaldo will be rock solid from here on out. I’m not sure I’d bet 48 Million dollars on that happening, though.

  • DG says:

    4 years is way too long for a roller coaster like Ubaldo. One thing that I can’t get out of my head: if you’re the Orioles and you’re willing to give 4/50 for a free agent pitcher, why wouldn’t you try to get Garza instead? Maybe his ceiling isn’t as high as Ubaldo’s, but he’s been way more consistent and if you’re offering a 4 year deal you need some expectation of consistency. And I would think that the fact that they wouldn’t have to lose their pick would make it a no brainer. Still scratching my head on this one.

  • DaveR says:

    I also wouldn’t trust Ubaldo for 4 years. Just take a look at his performances last season. It was pretty good but there is an element of smoke and mirrors. The last 2 months of the season he didn’t face an AL power hitting team outside of Oakland. His best wins in the month prior to that were against tail-spinning Texas (-5 streak) and KC (-4 streak). He was also carefully maneuvered away from all the Detroit contests after his June 7 loss. So my hope is that the brass knows he is a ticking time bomb and are taking a risk on a reclamation starter project (yearly thing now) and a pick.

  • Quincy Wheeler says:

    I love this website, and I’m sure Adam is a great guy, but I don’t understand why he is given a platform to present such one-sided opinions. In one of the comments, he states that Masterson is not worth Jimenez money. Masterson has far better statistics in Wins, Strikeouts, ERA, Innings Pitched and WAR over the past 3 years than Jimenez. Simply take a quick glance and that is obvious. Also, Masterson is a year younger than Ubaldo. Even more importantly, why would the Indians give Jimenez a four-year contract based on three months of last year? Especially when they have seen the median performance that he is able to give. The bigger issue is that the Indians draft a major-league quality player with that 17th pick. The Indians HAVE to win with the farm system. They cannot even sell that out to try to win now. I am happy going into the season with the rotation that you list; there are more than enough quality arms to fill the Ubaldo void.

  • The Doctor says:

    strikes me as a knee-jerk move by the baltimore front office in response to getting battered all offseason by the press over their lack of moves.

    ubaldo managed to keep his head straight long enough to cash in, and now i fully expect a return to high 4/low 5 era territory with a good 30+ HRs allowed and at least a dozen starts a year where he’s yanked before the 4th inning is complete. he’s going to get slaughtered playing so many games in AL East parks against those teams.

    it’s fascinating to me how folks are willing to forget 2.5 hideous years because of a half season against largely “meh” teams/lineups. the outraged response from cleveland fans over not resigning him strikes me as more of an indirect complaint about out lack of spending, as opposed to a legitmate complaint over losing a “good” player.

    • Peter says:

      I’m not seeing outrage. I think most people feel it was a good move to let him go.

      I know the guy scared the hell out of me every time he took the mound and I was all for dumping him this time a year ago. I forgot what a contract year can do for these guys. Actually, time will tell if he rebounded because of his contract or because he really figured it out. If it was the former, then he has a character flaw and you don’t want him around. The latter, then Baltimore got a good deal. 4 years makes it a gamble to me.

  • Ross says:

    “the outraged response from cleveland fans over not resigning him strikes me as more of an indirect complaint about our lack of spending, as opposed to a legitmate complaint over losing a ‘good’ player.”

    ^ Spot on. I think that’s the underlying source of any outrage from Cleveland fans for passing on a 4 year Ubaldo deal. I still have high hopes that Salazar and Bauer are going to develop into better MLB pitchers than Ubaldo.

  • Ben says:

    Just a thought, but if the Indians were willing to pay Ubaldo 12 million a year, wouldn’t that really undermine their arbitration case against Masterson, giving that he is asking for less and was an all star last year? Might that have played a factor?