Potential Offseason Target: Ubaldo Jimenez
Image Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Position: Starting pitcher
2013 Team: Cleveland Indians
Key 2013 Stats: 13-9 W-L, 3.30 ERA, 194 K, 80 BB
In 2010, Ubaldo Jimenez was one of the best pitchers in baseball. Despite pitching his home games in Colorado, he won 19 games, had a sparkling ERA of 2.88 and recorded 7.5 WAR. These numbers earned him a third place finish in the National League Cy Young Award voting.
The success did not last. He struggled in the first half of 2011 and was traded to the Indians at midseason. It was hoped that escaping from Coors Field would allow Jimenez to get back on track, but he was even worse in Cleveland. In 2012, he bottomed out with a 5.40 ERA and a league leading 17 losses.
Midway through 2013, he was having another disappointing season, when his fortunes suddenly changed. In the second half of the season, his ERA dropped to 1.82 and he went 4-0 in September and October.
What was the cause for the turnaround? He had a drastic reduction in the number of walks and home runs allowed. After giving up 53 walks and 13 homers in the first half, those numbers dropped to 27 and 3 in the second.
Why He Might be a Good Fit
If the second half of 2013 is to be believed, then Jimenez could once again be one of the National League’s best pitchers, and would make an ideal #3 starter in the Phillies rotation.
Why He Might Not be a Good Fit
Jimenez will likely command a lot of money over a lot of years, and that’s a pretty big gamble to make for a guy who recorded a cumulative -0.8 WAR over 2011 and 2012.
While he seemed to get it under control last year, Jimenez had always had some trouble limiting the number of home runs he surrenders. Home run prone pitchers do not often fare well when pitching in Citizens Bank Park.
The selection of free agent starting pitchers wasn’t especially strong this season, and as a result, despite his inconsistency Jimenez is seen as one of the better options. He has the potential to be a top line pitcher, but if I’m spending big bucks on someone, I don’t want him to be this much of a question mark.