Written by Chris Slade
Roch Kubatko tweeted around 6:18 PM that the Orioles were nearing a 4-year, $48 million agreement with 30 year old free agent right hander Ubaldo Jimenez, and now that news has has been confirmed by Ken Rosenthal as an official agreement, pending physical.
Update: Jon Heyman tweeted that the deal is actually 4 years, $50 million. Ubaldo Jimenez pitched to a 3.30 ERA last season with the Indians over 182.2 innings, striking out 194 batters (good for a career best 9.56 K/9), while issuing 80 walks, along with 16 HR allowed. Batters hit just .235 off Jimenez and he also posted a solid 43.9 groundball percentage.
Jimenez was particularly dominant in the second half of the season where he pitched to a 1.82 ERA over 82 innings, with 100 strikeouts, and with a walk rate (2.89 BB/9) much lower than his 3.94 BB/9 on the season.
My two cents: I love it. Ubaldo's track record is inconsistent but at this point, I think the Orioles needed to take a chance on someone with upside, especially someone with Ubaldo Jimenez's upside. If he pitches anything like he did during the second half of the 2013 season, he instantly becomes the ace caliber pitcher the Orioles have lacked for years.
It's worth noting that Keith Law gave Jimenez's second half success a strong vote of confidence in his free agent profile: "He'll pitch at 30 years old in 2014 and looks like a new guy out there, establishing the fastball earlier in counts, throwing it for more strikes and getting more swings and misses on it. That allows him to set up his plus slider, short and hard at 85-87 mph, as well as a low- to mid-80s splitter with good bottom that helps him against left-handed hitters."
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