Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez bounced back to his old form in 2013 as he posted one of his best seasons in recent years. At this point, the Indians have to decide if he is worth signing to a long-term deal, and more importantly, if he is worth the money.
The numbers are certainly there for Cleveland to buy into what Jimenez is selling. He went 13-9 with a 3.30 earned run average, 194 strikeouts, 2.7 wins above replacement and a .239 opponent batting average in 32 starts. Not to mention, he also posted a 1.71 ERA after the All-Star break, which led the American League.
On the other hand, there is certainly plenty of risk to inking a contract that would stretch over a couple years. Just because Jimenez was good this year does not mean he will continue to play at a high level as evidence has shown.
Obviously, Cleveland will pick up Jimenez’s team option because they would be foolish not to. However, the right-hander has the choice to decline the option and become a free agent as it states in his contract. At that point, the Indians can offer him a qualifying offer, sign to him to a multi-year contract or let him test his luck in free agency.
It is an unfortunate position for the Indians to be in considering Jimenez was their best starter the past season. It is hard to take a step forward in the right direction when there is a possibility of losing a big piece to the puzzle.
There is simply no way Cleveland is going to give Jimenez roughly $17.5 million per season, which is what the San Francisco Giants gave Tim Lincecum, which means the qualifying offer is the way to go.