The Baltimore Orioles were looking for a starting pitcher the entire offseason, and they finally landed one of their targets. Last night the Orioles inked free agent pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez to a four-year contract worth almost $50 million. Jimenez is coming off a strong bounce-back season for the Cleveland Indians in 2013, but he struggled immensely in 2011 and 2012. Even though the Orioles desperately needed help in the rotation, I don’t believe signing Jimenez is a good move.
While some believe Jimenez is back to form, I am not convinced. Jimenez is one year removed from a disastrous 2012 season. His ERA stood at a dreadful 5.40 and his WHIP was an awful 1.61. He has also lost some velocity off his fastball, so he is not the same dominating pitcher he once was for the Colorado Rockies.
Furthermore, this move has the potential to hurt the Orioles long term. Since they are committing four years to Jimenez, his contract has the potential to become burdensome. If he reverts back to the pitcher he was just two years ago, the Orioles will be stuck paying a substantial amount of money to an ineffective pitcher for several seasons.
Jimenez also costs the Orioles their first-round draft pick. I’m not against forfeiting picks for elite players, but Jimenez is not a good enough pitcher to sacrifice part of a team’s future for. While the Orioles’ inactivity prior to this move was frustrating, they should not have overreacted by overpaying for Jimenez. He is not a reliable pitcher, and his contract has significant long-term consequences.