Hoping to salvage a quiet offseason and not fall into the bottom part of the competitive AL East, the Baltimore Orioles finally made an offseason move. In February, but still.
The O's have agreed to a four-year contract with starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez that's believed to be worth about $48 million. Roch Kubatko at MASN was first to report the deal was close and give us the terms. Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal says both sides have agreed.
It's not exactly the type of deal the Orioles will be psyched to make, especially considering their reluctance to spend this offseason. Committing four years to an up-and-down pitcher like Jimenez is risky. Since the Cleveland Indians attached a qualifying offer to Jimenez, that means the O's will have to give up a draft pick too. Jimenez, 30, was 13-9 last season in Cleveland with a 3.30 ERA. It was a nice bounce-back season, but the first time he'd had a sub-4.00 ERA since his stellar 2010 with the Colorado Rockies.
Question marks aside, Jimenez was one of the top free-agent pitchers still out there at this point, and the Orioles needed an arm. Plus, they wouldn't have liked to see him end up in their division with the Toronto Blue Jays, who were also said to be eyeing him.
The Orioles rotation is without a proven ace heading into 2014. Chris Tillman, 25, was Baltimore's best pitcher a year ago and could solidify himself as a front-of-the-rotation guy with another stellar season. Beyond him, there's Miguel Gonzalez, Bud Norris and Wei-Yin Chen. Zach Britton is hanging around too. Dylan Bundy, who had Tommy John surgery last year, could be back to help later this season, but he's still a star of the future. The Orioles' other recent move was signing Korean pitcher Suk-min Yoon. He's a former All-Star in Korea, but it's unclear whether he'll be a starter or reliever in MLB.
The Orioles have a good core of offensive players — Chris Davis, Manny Machado and Adam Jones — so Jimenez could help them stay above water in the AL East and maybe get in the conversation for a wild card. But the real impact of this deal with come in upcoming seasons, as Jimenez ages. Baltimore has Davis and catcher Matt Wieters in the market for big contracts soon. If committing some of the stash of cash they haven't wanted to spend to a risky pitcher paralyzes them in coming years, that would be rough.
Here's a wrinkle to watch: The Jimenez deal is pending a physical. The Orioles have already had two deals — with Grant Balfour and Tyler Colvin — fall through this season after physicals.
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