IBI Power Poll: Should the Indians sign Ubaldo Jimenez?
You figure out the terms yourself...
In this week’s power poll, we are going to continue to look at the Indians’ starting rotation, as we have the past few weeks. The Indians have been quiet since they dealt Drew Stubbs this past December, because their club as a whole seems to be fairly complete. While the Indians have minor concerns at shortstop and third base, their pitching remains the question mark heading into the 2014 season.
How much of a question mark depends on who’s looking.
Today, we are going to focus the spotlight once again on Ubaldo Jimenez, who remains a free agent in an unknown market for starting pitchers.
Two weeks ago, we took a look at the #5 slot in the rotation, and Carlos Carrasco came out on top with 32% of the vote.
Last week, we took a look at Danny Salazar, and discussed whether or not he could become an elite starter.
The results provided a clear majority. Nearly 66% of the voters believe that Danny Salazar is going to make the turn in 2014 to become that elite starting pitcher, while 34% believe that he’s either going to need more time, or he’s going to be a bust.
Danny Salazar is a key to the rotation in many, many ways. Two major pieces to the Indians appear to be gone, with Scott Kazmir signing a two-year deal, and Ubaldo Jimenez remaining a free agent looking for a big-time deal. As IBI/CSI columnist Steve Orbanek noted in Orbiting Cleveland this week, the Indians rotation is left with a huge hole to fill.
If Salazar is the elite pitcher that a majority of our readers believe he is, than he will play a HUGE part in filling in the gap that the two free agents are leaving. Obviously, one guy can’t make up a two-pitcher difference, but Salazar was already a part of the rotation last year, and in many ways, supplemented both Corey Kluber and Justin Masterson, who both missed substantial time while Salazar jumped into the rotation.
You could make a case that Corey Kluber’s placement on the DL on August 6 of last year not only allowed Ubaldo Jimenez to reclaim his ace status, but saved his job in the rotation. Remember, Salazar was called up and took Jimenez spot in the rotation on August 7th, and Jimenez was bumped back into Kluber’s spot in the rotation on August 10th. You could argue that the only reason that Salazar was called up was because of Kluber’s injury.
You could also make a case that the Indians were ready to make a move with Jimenez. His numbers weren’t horrible up to that point if you just look at the numbers, but he had scuffled through much of July, with the one exception in an eight-inning, two-hit stint against the Texas Rangers. It’s the enigma of Ubaldo.
Regardless of your thoughts on the why’s of Danny Salazar’s call-up, it woke up Jimenez and perhaps saved the Indians entire season.
But getting back on point, Jimenez pitched in 182 2/3 innings last season, while Kazmir added 158 innings to the Indians count. That gives the Indians 340 2/3 innings to fill this season. The first pitcher that the Indians will look at to fill those innings is Salazar, elite or not.
Salazar pitched in only 52 innings last season for the Indians over ten starts with the big league club. While I’m not going to get into specific projections with Salazar, I will note that counting his 20 starts in the minors, Salazar pitched in 30 total games and 145 total innings.
For Salazar to be elite, he will have to increase his innings output while maintaining or improving all of his peripheral statistics. For our sake, we’ll assume that Salazar increases his innings outlook by 20%, giving him 175 total innings next season. Taking off the 52 innings he pitched last year, that gives the Indians 120 innings to subtract off of that 340 2/3 innings.
That gives the Indians a more tangible 220 innings to account for.
You could make a case that Corey Kluber and Zach McAllister are going to add innings onto their counts from last year as well. McAllister pitched in 170 innings in 2011 and 190 innings in 2012, while splitting time between Cleveland and Columbus. He only pitched in 134 innings last year, so you could see a 50 inning bounce there. Kluber pitched in 154 innings in 2011, and 190 innings in 2012, while splitting time between Cleveland and Columbus. He only pitched in 147 innings last year, so you could see a 25-30 inning bump there as well.
You could even make a case that Justin Masterson should see a bump in his innings, since his 193 innings last season was the first time in three seasons that he dropped below 200 innings pitched. Of course, his increase would only be ten innings or so, if it happens.
You have to keep in mind that the assumption would be that all four starters mentioned would have to maintain their health throughout the year, which is a question-mark to some extent, because each spent time on the DL throughout the season. In fairness though, Masterson, McAllister and Kluber have all maintained healthy careers, and likely didn’t sustain the type of injuries last year that are considered debilitating.
The only question-mark health-wise is Salazar, who the Indians had enough confidence in to throw 145 innings last year, when he’s only thrown over 100 innings in his career prior, and that was in 2009, a year before his Tommy John surgery.
Saying conservatively that the Indians are going to gain another 70 innings from the three starters other than Salazar seems to be a fair assumption, dropping the innings number to a very manageable 150 total innings to be made up by a number five starter.
In a perfect world, you would get 200 innings from Masterson, 185 innings from Kluber and McAllister, and 175 innings from Salazar, for a total of 745 innings, which would more than supplant the top four of last season, and would actually put a run on the top five.
Last season, the Indians got 193 from Masterson, 182 2/3 from Jimenez, 158 from Kazmir, 147 from Kluber and 124 from McAllister, for a total of 805 innings.
True expectations for this year are probably below that 745 innings mark for the top four, but above the 805 innings mark of the top five in 2013. What I’m saying is, once you add a #5 to the mix, if all things remain equaly, that 805 innings mark should be easily topped.
Of course, all things rarely remain equal. That’s for another day though.
What does this all mean? The Indians can go down one of two roads, and the power poll from a couple of weeks ago bears that out. The Indians can fill the #5 starter hole with one of four candidates: Carlos Carrasco, Shaun Marcum, Josh Tomlin or Trevor Bauer, or the Indians can fill a spot in the rotation by signing a free agent, which would likely be Ubaldo Jimenez.
With the IBI/CSI readers tentatively choosing Carrasco as their #5 option here in the offseason, he was only 12 votes ahead of “a move that is yet to be made.” This week, we are going to assume that the Indians are still considering Ubaldo Jimenez as a starting option, as Orbanek noted in Friday’s column.
This really has nothing to do with comps on the rotation from 2013 to 2014. There are arguably less questions this year, since the top four are clear-cut. Of course, those that make statements like “this year’s rotation is superior” are truly suspending disbelief and basing that assumption on projections, since Masterson is the only starter of the four with a true major league “body-of-work.”
Look, I’m not trying to start a controversy here. I like the way our rotation shapes up. My point here is that last year, the belief was that we had tons of question marks in the rotation, and it turned out they were aptly answered. This year, the belief is that we don’t have tons of question marks. Hopefully that’s true, but if you’ve followed baseball for any time, you know what that can get you. Last year bears that out.
Remember, the bullpen was the one lock we had heading into 2013, and how did that turn out?
Should the Indians sign Ubaldo Jimenez?
This could get muddy if I were to attach years and salary to the poll, but I’m not going to. We all know that Ubaldo Jimenez is asking for anywhere between $17 and $20 million, and likely 4-7 years. The assumption is that he’s not going to get that from any major league team, and for sure, not from the Indians.
At the end of the day, we don’t know WHAT Ubaldo will ultimately get, because all the figures given by the “experts” are pure speculation based on last year’s market, and this year’s logjam created by the Tanaka/Price sweepstakes.
I also don’t want to muddy up the waters by adding a long-term deal for Masterson to the table. We can assume that the Indians are going to discuss this very option with their ace as we get closer to arbitration in February, and this could be an ongoing discussion right up until April, or until Masterson says he’s done talking contract.
I’ll leave the terms of Ubaldo’s contract and the possibility of a long-term Masterson contract for your own speculation for now. My only focus is on the 2014 season. If you think they’ll get him to a one-year deal. Great. If you think they’ll sign him to a three or four-year deal. Wonderful. If you don’t think they should do either…that’s your prerogative. That should make this week’s question an easy one:
Should the Cleveland Indians sign Ubaldo Jimenez for the 2014 season?
It doesn’t get any more cut and dry than that. Make sure that you leave comments below, in what I can only assume will be a very interesting conversation.
Jim is currently the senior editor and Columnist, as well as the host of IBI's weekly online radio shows, Smoke Signals and Cleveland Sports Insiders. You can follow Jim on Twitter @Jim_IBI, or contact him via e-mail at email@example.com.
fWARs from 2008 thru 2013: 3.9, 5.6, 6.5, 3.3, 0.1, 3.2
FIPs from 2008 thru 2013: 3.83, 3.36, 3.10, 3.67, 5.06, 3.43
xFIPs from 2008 thru 2013: 4.16, 3.59, 3.60, 3.71, 4.98, 3.62
His "worth" per season via fWAR from 2008 thru 2013:
$17.7M, $25M, $26M, $14.8M, $0.4M, $16.1M
Average worth per season from 2008 thru 2013: $16.7M
His ERA wasn't good in 2011, but he was still a decent pitcher that year. When you look at his last 6 seasons....2012 looks more and more like the outlier and not his 2010 season, which many claim to be his outlier season....
With the roster as currently constructed though, nearly impossible to fit Ubaldo on the club. Maybe if the clubs is able to go to $90M, the arby cases all fall near the bottom of their projections, and Ubaldo takes a greatly front-loaded deal (ala Bourn) then it could work...but most likely you'd have to deal a guy like Cabrera to make it fit, which obviously complicates things.
That said....I'd be willing to offer Ubaldo a 3-year deal in the $48-50M range with a vesting option for 2017 that could make the deal worth $60-63M. Give him say $14M in 2014, $15-16.5M in 2015/2016, and an option worth $16M with a $2-4M buyout. Makes things interesting in 2015/2016 in regards to payroll but not something that would necessarily kill ya.
Not sure Ubaldo finds a better deal at this point....though maybe the Tribe won't go that high. Though rumors were they were near that dollar total (the $48-50M range) for Edwin Jackson last year...
Seriously though, look past all that and just decide if it's the right thing to do. We know the variables, and they can go 100 different ways...
Strip it all away, get a figure in your head, and answer yes or no...then explain the yes path you took, or the no path you took!
Appreciate you posting either way...
The trade front is a big unkown to us. If Cabrera with a prospect or 2 can land a young, high upside starter then they should avoid signing Jimenez. If they feel they have no chance to extend Masterson and they can land an Archie Bradley type in a package then by all means pull the trigger. This is where the qualifing offer gives Cleveland leverage that it didn't have when trading Sabathia and Lee. If this is the scenario and Ubaldo can be signed to a team friendly deal like 3/36 then sign him.
If they would have only given Kazmir a 2/22 deal then this discussion wouldn't have been needed. Fewer years and dollars with the potential for as much upside. I bet they're kicking themselves in the backside for not signing him. I know I'd like to kick them in the backside for not matching that offer.
For many of the reasons that others have mentioned and I have mentioned before, I would be in favor of retaining Jimenez at reasonable cost (I.e. 3 years, an option for a fourth year, say $15-16M per, maybe up to $17-18M in the option year). That would likely still be cheaper than what it would cost to retain Masterson, who I don't think is any better than Jimenez- truth be told, Jimenez really didn't have any bad starts in the second half- he dominated in 90% of them, and they weren't just against cupcakes either- he beat the Orioles, Royals, Rangers, and A's, and only gave up 3 ER against a hot Braves team in ATL. Masterson wasn't nearly as dominant in the first half, and had some clunkers against not just DET and BOS, but even against MIN and KC.
Plus, you can still trade Masterson for a frontline pitching prospect (such as Archie Bradley of ARI or near equivalent prospect), someone who is likely to help as early as second half of 2014 or 2015. The extra draft picks you get from a Jimenez in 2014 and a Masterson in 2015 might help you in 2017 and 2018 respectively at the earliest, and that's provided the Indians draft well and things turn out, something that is far from a given. The Indians have had better success in trades than in draft picks over the last several seasons. While trading Jimenez is no longer an option, trading Masterson is. Plus, Boston could be a major threat to sign Masterson, being he developed there, Farrell was his pitching coach, and that rotation isn't young (I.e. Lackey, Dempster, etc.), not to mention Boston can outspend us.
I think the Indians have a much better chance of retaining Jimenez, and it's critical they keep one of the two (Jimenez and Masterson) for the following reasons:
1. You won't have to depend on two of Bauer/Carrasco/Tomlin to fill two spots in the rotation.
2. Your lack of pitching depth in the Minors won't be exposed.
3. The PR hit won't be as great if you keep one and lose one; you lose both, and the Indians will again be dealing with an uphill PR battle. (Granted, this isn't the most important reason for signing, but it is something to consider with the other reasons).
4. The draft picks reason mentioned above - the Indians' window of contention is open NOW. Will it still be open in 3-4 years? Perhaps (hopefully), if guys like Lindor, Moncrief, Aguilar, Frazier, Ramirez pan out. It also depends on if those draft picks from Jimenez and/or Masterson pan out by then (they'd have to advance fairly quickly to meet that window). If the window isn't open at that point, the draft picks won't have as much impact with the current group ready to contend now, not as much as an Archie Bradley or frontline pitching prospect would have, something you could probably get with a trade of Masterson, rather than losing him for a pick. And, I'm not convinced he'll resign, especially at dollars that would make sense for Cleveland and keep the rest of the team intact. Jimenez would cost less, yet still have as much, maybe even more potential, than Masterson.
Bottom line Resign Jimenez, see if you can resign Masterson, but likely look to trade him for a frontline starting pitching prospect (+ more- the pitching prospect being the centerpiece), or if nothing comes around, take that draft pick in the offseason. You still keep the majority of your staff intact to maximize your current window of contention, you potentially extend the current window, and you prepare yourself for the future either through the prospects acquired or through the draft PICK (not picks) you gain from Masterson, as I'm not convinced he resigns.
I don't see teams preferring Ubaldo to Garza, except that they probably think they can get Ubaldo for less money. Garza's been reliably good, having never posted an ERA above 4. You sign him to 4/60 and you figure as long as he stays reasonably healthy he's worth most of that contract. Santana has a lot of the same consistency issues as Ubaldo and is a little older, but he only really had the one bad year, while Ubaldo it was 2 full seasons of horrible spread across 3 years. Agree that Yankees likely prefer Ubaldo to Santana, but don't know about Seattle.
From reading reports, It does not seem like teams have Santana and Garza quite on the same tier as Ubaldo. Yes, they all have question marks, but reports say Garza's injury history and poor 2nd half performance are making teams shy away despite lack of draft pick compensation, and Santana's homerun tendencies have reported to turn off the Yankees and Blue Jays. He would probably be a good fit in Safeco though.
It was also earlier reported that the Yankees could very well sign both Tanaka and Jimenez. Apparently, if they are willing to go over the luxary tax mark, they will go all in and are willing to go WAY over that mark. If Tanaka goes to either the Yankees or D'Backs, then all 3 of the teams I mentioned will be players for Ubaldo. If he goes to Seattle then the Yankees will probably become the front runners. No matter what, I think at least 2 other teams with much deeper pockets will be in on Ubaldo and he will get at least 15 mil for at least 4 years. He wont be signing the 3 year deal for 40-45 mil that a lot of people were beginning to suggest after the rumors of his comp pick could be hurting him came out.
If the Yankees don't get Tanaka, then I could see them grabbing Ubaldo. Going over the luxury tax threshold for the privilege of giving Jimenez a $60+ million contract would seem like a hard pill for them to swallow though, so who knows.
Matthew made a good point. If we can't sign Masterson, our rotation will not look good for 2015 and beyond.
I also voted yes without the assumption that we will get any sort of deal on Ubaldo because of his draft pick compensation. Its not going to happen guys. The Yankees, Blue Jays, and Mariners will be his biggest suitors. The Mariners will only lose a 3rd round pick, the Yankees will only lose a 2nd rounder, and the Blue Jays have two protected top 11 picks and don't care about losing a 2nd rounder. Ubaldo will get paid, and I'm hoping were the ones to do it.
I am a firm believer in Ubaldo's abilities. I have no problem taking a chance on him over Masterson, and though he won't be cheap, I do think he will end up being quite a bite cheaper than Masterson come next winter. A 5/65 deal for Ubaldo, paying him 10 mil in 2014 and 15 mil for the next 4 years would be better IMO than paying Masterson 6/100, which I believe will be his FLOOR in FA if he has a repeat performance in 2014.
If we do in fact resign Jimenez, I would surely believe we would be pushing a little harder to move Bourn and or Carbera, but I could also see us being much more willing to deal Masterson if we are able to acquire controllable young pitching. I would love to have both UJ and JM in the rotation in 2014, but I do agree with the people who believe that one of the current options to hold down the 5th spot would be adequate.
We do have the upper hand with Jimenez because he is comfortable in Cleveland, and this is something we won't have with future FA. I really think this decision comes back to the who do you prefer most question between Masterson and Jimenez, and for me, Im going Ubaldo because of upside potential and relative cost. Were gonna need at least 1 of these guys for the next 3-5 years, and I don't want to let Jimenez walk and then watch Masterson be completely out of our price range next year.
I'd love to have Ubaldo on this year's team. Do I think it will happen? No. I would offer 3/42 (13m, 14m, 15m) and if his market falls apart maybe he signs. That's because I think that Masterson is a goner. Some team is probably going to pay more and for longer than 3/42 though.
Next thing you know, Josh Tomlin will become Mike Tomlin's brother, or perhaps wife?
Saying he has upside is one thing. Saying he's comparative to a hall of famer is another. I get it, he's a control-freak, but perhaps we hold off those types of comps until he actually wins a starting job again?
Reason is the price is to high to pay for Jimenez. I could see it now in 2yrs Jimenez goes back to 11 & 12 or get injured the critics will filed day. Blaming the Dolans and FO for signing him. They will future resources to sign other players in future like Kipnis, Santana and Salazar.
What would happen if Carrasco and Bauer have breakout year. Salazar becomes a top of rotation guy. McAllister and Kluber improve from last year results. Would you try to trade Masterson at the Trade deadline to make the team better for 14 and 15.
I would try to sign Hanson and Baker to provide depth in the rotation if there is injuries during the season.
If Masterson walks next year I believe the Indians will pursue either Lester or Bailey in FA Market(assuming they don't sign extensions this year).
I've said most of this in other threads so I'll be brief. My belief that the Indians need to sign Jimenez is based on a few factors:
1. With the draft pick attached, he's the only starter on the market that they have an advantage in signing.
2. I don't believe Justin Masterson will sign an extension with the Indians, and furthermore I don't think Masterson is the caliber SP you throw a big money extension at, so I would prefer the Indians not do it.
3. I don't think the Indians can expect to contend in the Central with McAllister/Carrasco/Tomlin/Bauer/Marcum filling 2 of the 5 rotation spots.
4. As big of a hole as I see in the 2014 rotation, 2015 is even bigger with the loss of Masterson. Bauer and Anderson both have promise, but we all know the rate of failure with pitching prospects. We would be lucky to get one MOR starter out of the 2 of them.
So, if the Tribe can get Ubaldo on a 3 year deal for less than $45M, I think they should do it. If the Dbacks or Yankees or Blue Jays are willing to give up a draft pick and go 4 years, $55-60M, then we're out of luck and have to hope for some minor miracles from our farm system and minor league FA signings.