Many continue to wait with great anticipation, or perhaps lack thereof, for the signing of a free agent starting pitcher by the Toronto Blue Jays. With pitchers and catchers officially reporting to Dunedin, Fla. in less than two weeks, something has got to give in the search for a starting pitcher in Toronto, right? Not necessarily.
No matter what sort of hints you think Alex Anthopoulos may or may not be giving you in regards to even wanting to sign a free agent starting pitcher, he is perfectly fine with the options he has going into Spring Training as of right now. Anthopoulos takes a lot of pride in the moves he has made over his career as a GM and unless someone is willing to trade with him, he’s not really interested in welcoming anyone in who’s currently unemployed. It’s just the way he operates.
However, this time around, it seems as though Anthopoulos is under a little bit more pressure to make a move than he has been in the past, especially at the hands of the fans. If the Jays’ GM finally cracks and does decide to reluctantly sign a free agent starting pitcher, he should look no further than Ubaldo Jimenez.
The debate has been on for what seems like eternity and has recently even become almost fierce. Jimenez or Ervin Santana? Who should the Blue Jays sign after all? Although Santana had one particularly spectacular season in his career back in 2008, so did Jimenez in 2010 when he finished third in voting for the NL Cy Young Award. These two free agent starting pitchers are one in the same when it comes down to being a one-hit wonder with a few short lived top 40 singles sprinkled on the side. Jimenez’s stuff just had that little bit of an extra beat to it.
When looking at free agents like Jimenez and Santana, you’re taking a gamble on whether or not they can once again return to true form and absolutely dominate any hitting they face. When Jimenez was at his best, he was fantastic and sometimes even lights out. As a member of the Colorado Rockies in 2010, Jimenez enjoyed his best overall season when he finished with an ERA of 2.88 and tallied a career-high 214 strikeouts over 221 innings.
In fairness to Santana, his numbers are eerily similar to those that belong to Jimenez. He too reached a career-high 214 strikeouts in an impressive 219 innings pitched back in 2008. The premature nature of this career-high for Santana is precisely why I have to give the advantage to Jimenez when trying to figure out who is the best available option for the Jays. He has been great more recently. That’s how close this free agency battle between these two hurlers really is.
When faced with a decision like this, if you are not going to sign both, you have to go with the pitcher who has had a more impressive career overall. Between Jimenez and Santana, it’s a tight one. However, Jimenez seems to be the safer bet when it comes down to who can regain his previous magic, and this time in Toronto. If Anthopoulos decides to uncharacteristically give a free agent pitcher the time of day over the next week or so, he should be chatting with Jimenez.