The emergence of Ubaldo Jimenez from the mound was one of the bigger factors in the Cleveland Indians success late in the 2013 season. As the season broke into the MLB offseason, most experts and non-experts alike agreed that Jimenez would be gone elsewhere before the start of the 2014 season and the Indians would need to fill that need in some other way. As the later part of the offseason drags on towards Spring Training however, Jimenez is still without a new team.
While a pitcher of his stature being unsigned at this point is not unheard of, there are reasons to believe that another team will not want to give him the contract he reportedly wants. He is supposedly asking for a three or four year contract. That is not completely unreasonable but it is a sizable commitment for a guy who had his best few months in 2013. There is no guarantee he will return to that form in 2014.
Though most teams probably assume that he will achieve the same level or even a higher one, that risk matters. It matters all the more because Jimenez received a qualifying offer from the Indians which means any team that signs him will not only be taking the risk of his future but also giving up a top draft pick in the coming 2014 MLB Draft. That little extra part where a team would risk signing him and also give up a top draft pick might be enough to push this too far.
If it goes to a certain point, it is a logical assumption to think Jimenez would accept the $14M rough one year qualifying offer and return to the Indians one more season at least. That would be huge for the Indians as they would not only fill a role in the starting rotation this season but also further bridge the gap from now until when prospective pitchers will be ready.