It finally happened, the Baltimore Orioles made a legitimate free agent signing when they inked Suk-min Yoon to a three year deal late last week, and yesterday reports broke that the team has also agreed to terms with free agent pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez.
MASN's Roch Kubatko was the first to break the pending agreement when he tweeted out (@masnRoch) that the Orioles have made "substantial progress" in negotiations with free agent right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez and are working to finalize an agreement.
Not too long after that, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweeted out that a deal had been reached and the Orioles are signing Jimenez, pending a physical.
Kubatko reports that the deal is for approximately $48 million over four years, while Jon Heyman is reporting the deal is four years, $50 million with some money being deferred, so the odds are the "value" of the contract will be in the four year, $48 million range, which is what our source informs us the contract is.
No matter which figure is correct, the deal will be the longest, and highest paying contract the Orioles have ever given to a free agent pitcher, and Jimenez will be the first Orioles pitcher to earn $10 million per year or more.
Jimenez is a eight year veteran, who has had some ups and downs in his career, but boasts a career 82-75 record with a 3.93 ERA, 1.345 WHIP, 8.3 strikeouts per nine innings and allows 0.7 home runs per nine innings. Those last two stats are good things to have at Camden Yards. In addition, Jimenez has started at least 31 games in each of the past six seasons and managed to compile a career ERA of 3.66 in six seasons with the Colorado Rockies, which is impressive considering the launching pad, Coors Field, that they play in. Jimenez finished third in NL Cy Young voting in 2010 with Colorado after going 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA.
He struggled a bit once he came to Cleveland, but in 2013 he returned to form as he went 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA, 1.330 WHIP and a career high 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings ratio.
For the Orioles, this is a move they almost had to make if they wanted to be taken seriously around the league and by future free agents, and although Jimenez is not the ace, although he has shown he could be in the past, the staff needs, he is a sinker ball, strikeout pitcher who takes the ball every fifth day and eats up some innings with quality work and that is what this starting rotation has needed all along.
The Orioles fanbase has been waiting for something like this to break and it finally came to fruition. In little under a week, the Birds have added two legitimate free agent pitchers, one of which is a quality number two/three guy and the other could prove to be a starter, or quality reliever. Baltimore's front office seems to have gotten the message that fans were a bit outraged over the past two winters when the team is so close to contending for a division title.
Since the O's will now have to forfeit their first round draft pick due to signing Jimenez, the big question fans are asking now is whether or not the team will go after that big time DH the team needs in Kendrys Morales or Nelson Cruz.
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