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  • Free Agent Pitcher Profile: Ubaldo Jimenez

    The Indians made a bold move at the trade deadline in 2011, trading away multiple top prospects to acquire Ubaldo Jimenez, a 27-year-old right-hander who was viewed at the time as one of the premier pitching talents in the National League. An imposing presence with a mid-90s fastball, Jimenez had steadily improved in the seasons leading up to 2010, when he went 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA to finish third in the Cy Young voting.

    Jimenez wasn't been the same guy over the first half of the 2011 season in Colorado, posting a 4.46 ERA with significantly diminished velocity, but Cleveland still jumped at the opportunity to add a potential ace in his physical prime. As it turned out, the righty's troubles only worsened after the trade. He put up a 5.10 ERA in 11 starts down the stretch while the Indians rapidly faded from contention, and then trudged through a tumultuous 2012 campaign in which he lost 17 games with a 5.40 ERA, adding a career-high 4.8 BB/9 and a career-low 7.3 K/9. In two years, Jimenez had gone from superstar to liability.

    He bounced back in a major way this season, and the timing could hardly have been better for him. In his final year under contract, Jimenez went 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA, pushing his K-rate all the way back up 9.6 while showing dramatically improved control. Although his velocity dropped for a third consecutive year, his secondary stuff was as good as ever, and in the second half Jimenez looked every bit the part of a No. 1 starter, posting a 1.82 ERA and 100/27 K/BB ratio while holding opponents to a .606 OPS. He notched double-digit strikeouts in four of his last eight starts.

    Why Does He Fit?

    His performance this season, especially toward the end, is awfully tantalizing. That's a guy that could legitimately be called an ace -- something the Twins have mostly lacked since Johan Santana's departure. He also doesn't turn 30 until January, so in theory you're not looking at any imminent decline.

    While he's had his ups and downs in terms of performance and there are questions about the condition of his arm based on draining gas, he's been able to take the mound every five days throughout his career up to this point. Jimenez has made 31-plus starts in each of his six seasons since becoming a full-time big-leaguer. Only six pitchers have made more starts since 2008.

    Why Doesn't He Fit?

    There are no two ways about it: Jimenez is a massive risk. Even though he was able to succeed with a 91 MPH fastball this year, his steadily declining velocity is clearly a red flag, and he's still only a year removed from being one of the worst pitchers in the league.

    Considering his age, his recent performance and the state of the market, Jimenez will surely require a sizable long-term deal. The Twins might have to go above and beyond what others are offering in order to lure him to a current non-contender. As enticing as his upside is, the downside may simply be too great to justify an unprecedented financial commitment. Beyond the money, signing Jimenez would also probably cost the Twins a high draft pick, as Cleveland seems likely to make a qualifying offer.

    What Will He Cost?

    The Offseason Handbook pegs his estimated contract at four years and $64 million, which coincidentally is the same guess we made on Tim Lincecum, who was profiled here on Tuesday. Lincecum ended up inking an extension with the Giants later that day at two years and $35 million. What does that tell us about Jimenez, who is similar to Lincecum in that his velocity has declined as he's approached 30? Compared to The Freak, Jimenez would seem to offer a lower ceiling and deeper floor, but he's also coming off a much better year. Sixty-four million still looks like a reasonable guess to me.

    Would you pay that for a 30-year-old who was an ace this season, but mostly a disaster in the two years preceding?
    This article was originally published in blog: Free Agent Pitcher Profile: Ubaldo Jimenez started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 47 Comments
    1. orangevening's Avatar
      orangevening -
      I would do 3/52$, but giving up the draft pick kills it for me
    1. 071063's Avatar
      071063 -
      I think Jimenez is worth the risk. The Twins needs a veteran "ace" and he fits the bill, even with the risk. I'm not sure he would be the leader in the clubhouse like they would like, but I also don't know that he won't.

      The Twins need to make a committment to starting pitching and it will probably be somewhat risky in order to get the pitcher with the upside that they will be looking for and need. Jimenez fits that bill. Now, the key is really, how does he turn out. We need him to be very successful!
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      I think it's a stretch for Ryan to pay for any of these guys but I think it's a giant stretch to expect him to give up a draft pick as well. I just don't see him going after Ubaldo.
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      I think it's a stretch for Ryan to pay for any of these guys but I think it's a giant stretch to expect him to give up a draft pick as well. I just don't see him going after Ubaldo.
      +1

      No shot if the guy is offered a Qualifying Offer (loses 2nd RD Draft pick).
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsfan34 View Post
      +1

      No shot if the guy is offered a Qualifying Offer (loses 2nd RD Draft pick).
      A very good second round pick. Given how the current CBA and qualifying offers are constructed, giving up picks is a really big deal, especially when you're picking somewhere in the 40-range with your second pick.

      Back when qualifying offers were thrown out like candy and there were 10+ supplemental picks every season, it's wasn't such a big deal. Yeah, the Twins might lose a second round pick but they probably had at least one supplemental pick coming back from another player. That is no longer the case.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      A very good second round pick. Given how the current CBA and qualifying offers are constructed, giving up picks is a really big deal, especially when you're picking somewhere in the 40-range with your second pick.

      Back when qualifying offers were thrown out like candy and there were 10+ supplemental picks every season, it's wasn't such a big deal. Yeah, the Twins might lose a second round pick but they probably had at least one supplemental pick coming back from another player. That is no longer the case.
      Yeah, you are wrong.

      Twins GM Terry Ryan says his team would give up its 2014 second-round pick to sign a free agent who received a qualifying offer, 1500ESPN.com's Darren Wolfson writes (on Twitter). The Twins' first-rounder, at No. 5 overall, is protected
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Ubaldo is the perfect target for the Twins, he is high risk, high reward, and if he pitches to his potential you basically get a 100 million dollar pitcher for about half the price.
      I'd offer him 3/40 to start out with, and go up to 4/56 if nesc
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      Yeah, you are wrong.
      I'd love to be wrong. Still don't see it happening.
    1. Siehbiscuit's Avatar
      Siehbiscuit -
      MLB Trade Rumors has him pegged for 3/$39. If the Twins truly had trouble getting FA to look at them seriously, then they need to make a "I will not get outbid"-type of offer. Something in the 4 year range and $16-18M will be what it takes to get him here. There is so much room in the budget, that even if a mistake were made and he is more of 4.50-5.00ERA guy, the Twins could survive. So much of the future is riding on prospects and they are cheap for most of the first 3-4 years. There is room in the budget, so let's get it done!
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      Yeah, you are wrong.
      Seems more like a factual statement that it is enforced by MLB. And he used 'sacrifice'...and it wasn't exactly non-nonchalant.

      And to the point of the previous poster, it's a lot more valuable pick than in previous years where compensatory picks were handed out like candy on Holloween. It's also looking like a very good draft.

      But you are quoting Wolfson correctly...

      Darren Wolfson@DarrenWolfson24 Oct
      Terry Ryan confirmed to me that he would sacrifice his 2nd rd pick to sign a FA. Still seems like a long-shot. Maybe Ervin Santana. #mntwins


      Per the ESPN1500 inteview:

      Would you give up your 2nd round pick to sign a free-agent?
      If he's good.
      Really? That surprises me.
      Sure, if he's good. Depends on who it is and longevity and age and all that stuff. I don't think there's a club that wouldn't give up a second-rounder to get quality back, and longevity.
      That means you'll have to spend some money. As you know, the richest outside free-agent contract you've given out is 3-years/$21M to Willingham. If you sign a guy who has been tendered, you'll crush that contract. Prepared to do that?
      Depends who it is. I have flexibility with payroll.


      The rest of the interview is worth reading for other topics and overall context.
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      Cleveland went over budget last season. I dont see them offering a qualified offer. So we should be good to go without losing the draft pick. He is one of the pitchers I can see Minnesota signing.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I'm curious, but would you trade a 2nd round pick for a proven MLB starter if you could? If not, why not? I'm told that the Twins aren't good because it is hard to pick late in round 1.....and that often those players don't work out. If that is true, isn't it more true of 2nd round picks?

      Why would you want the uncertainty of a 2nd round pick, that is years away, rather than the certainty of a proven MLB player?*

      *I ask this in principle, not in this exact case.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      I think it's a stretch for Ryan to pay for any of these guys but I think it's a giant stretch to expect him to give up a draft pick as well. I just don't see him going after Ubaldo.
      The Ryan who gave up 2 supplementary draft picks to re-sign Capps, would have no problem giving up a second rounder. On the other hand, I agree, I don't see him going after this guy.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      People make way too big of a deal out 2nd rd picks. Yes, it's nice to get another pick but I would trade an overwhelming majority of the picks (#20-75) the Twins have made in the last 7 years for a 3-4 years of a guy like Ubaldo.

      Eades
      Berrios
      Bard
      Melotakis
      Chargois
      Michael
      Harrison
      Boyd
      Wimmers
      Goodrum
      Gibson
      Bashore
      Gutierrez
      Hunt
      Ladendorf
      Revere
      It's a deep draft but a majority of the picks in the second half of the first rd and second round are busts. The Twins can start building their rotation instead of getting a likely bust who would be 3-4 years away from contributing if he overcame the odds. Additionally the Twins have a stacked system. They need to start putting an MLB team together where they are adding prospects to a solid team instead of completely counting on prospects for the rebuild.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Would you pay that for a 30-year-old who was an ace this season, but mostly a disaster in the two years preceding?
      I would not mind paying an Ace $15-20 M a year, but 3.30 ERA, 1.330 WHIP, 12-9 and only 188 IP do not an Ace make. Chris Sale, Max Scherzer, José Fernandez, Clayton Kershaw are Aces this guy is not.
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      The Ryan who gave up 2 supplementary draft picks to re-sign Capps, would have no problem giving up a second rounder. On the other hand, I agree, I don't see him going after this guy.
      Two?! Really?! I'm not even understanding why we lost one to sign out own guy...


      Really hated that trade the day it was announced. And now, in retrospect, I should have an even more visceral reaction. A horrible, horrible, horrible trade.
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      Quote Originally Posted by kab21 View Post
      People make way too big of a deal out 2nd rd picks. Yes, it's nice to get another pick but I would trade an overwhelming majority of the picks (#20-75) the Twins have made in the last 7 years for a 3-4 years of a guy like Ubaldo.



      It's a deep draft but a majority of the picks in the second half of the first rd and second round are busts. The Twins can start building their rotation instead of getting a likely bust who would be 3-4 years away from contributing if he overcame the odds. Additionally the Twins have a stacked system. They need to start putting an MLB team together where they are adding prospects to a solid team instead of completely counting on prospects for the rebuild.
      It took Tampa 6 years of good drafts (fruitful drafts) to get a good thing going. Twins need 2 more strong drafts to get a team in 2-3 years that will start cranking out .500 seasons or better. Producing at least a few players each year afterwards will be required to put them over the top and also stay competing for longer than 6 years - when free agency starts to decimate those teams after service time is fulfilled.
    1. notoriousgod71's Avatar
      notoriousgod71 -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsfan34 View Post
      It took Tampa 6 years of good drafts (fruitful drafts) to get a good thing going. Twins need 2 more strong drafts to get a team in 2-3 years that will start cranking out .500 seasons or better. Producing at least a few players each year afterwards will be required to put them over the top and also stay competing for longer than 6 years - when free agency starts to decimate those teams after service time is fulfilled.
      The Twins haven't drafted, developed, and kept an above average player since Glen Perkins in 2004 (Garza traded after 1.5 years). I don't know why we would expect them to suddenly start producing guys year after year until something changes.
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      Also the best thing about someone like Ubaldo is the number of years required to sign him won't be too long. He will likely get a 3 or at most 4 year deal. The dollars won't be prohibitive with their budget regardless of how much he makes per season. I agree with the 3 year 39 million assesment. Maybe the Twins can tack on an option year with a 3 million buyout to increase the cash guarentee to get him signed.

      Note: I am indifferent on who they sign this offseason as long as we are seeing progress towards the future (seeing our prospects advance) I don't care what they do this offseason in terms of quick fixes as i do not see us being competetive the next 2 seasons.
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      I think one of the Admin guys should put up a "best guess" thread before FA starts where everyone can predict what they think will be the biggest $$ and best signing this winter. Would be interesting to see who does the best.
      Did anyone last fall think the biggest move last winter would be 2 yr @ 5m Kevin Corriea signing?
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