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Orbiting Cleveland: Ubaldo Jimenez will be back in 2014

The Cleveland Indians need to do everything they can to re-sign Ubaldo Jimenez

Orbiting Cleveland: Ubaldo Jimenez will be back in 2014
December 20, 2013
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It may have taken some time, but it appears as if the Indians' offseason plans are finally becoming a bit clearer.

During the past week, we've seen the Indians sign John AxfordShaun Marcum and trade Drew Stubbs to acquire Josh Outman.

None of these moves could be described as big acquisitions, but it does at least signal that the Indians are trying to address their concerns and get... better.

Better — that's an interesting word to consider.

The Indians won 92 games last season and also earned one of the American League's Wild Card berths. Knowing that, it's not going to be that easy for the team to get much better; it's very difficult to win much more than 92 games in a season.

So let's consider that word one more time. Has this team actually positioned itself to be better in 2014?

Offensively, it looks as if that may be the case.

A platoon of David Murphy and Ryan Raburn will now replace Stubbs in right field. Murphy is coming off a rough 2013 campaign, but he does seem like a solid candidate for a rebound season.

Also, we know the back of the bullpen was a problem area for the Indians in 2014. They did improve that a bit by acquiring the lefty Outman, and Axford will now be the closer. However, Axford has not been a closer since 2012, and he also has a career average of 4.0 walks per nine innings. Tribe fans can probably expect that Axford has a comparable performance to Chris Perez, and it's no guarantee that he will offer much more than that.

Also, it appears as if the Indians are banking on offensive players like Michael BournNick Swisher and Asdrubal Cabrera having much better seasons at the plate. It does seem likely that all three of these players could rebound, but what if then Yan GomesCarlos Santana and Jason Kipnis also have down years at the plate?

In all honesty, it seems fair to conclude that the offense has made a slight improvement with the addition of Murphy over Stubbs, and the bullpen does seem a bit more stable. The team now has two viable left-handers in Outman and Marc Rzepczynski, and that was not the case last season.

But there is one area where the team is noticeably thinner — starting pitching.

As of now, the rotation appears to be Justin MastersonDanny SalazarCorey Kluber and Zach McAllister. The fifth spot in the rotation will likely be decided in a battle between Carlos CarrascoJosh TomlinTrevor Bauer and Marcum.

Sorry, that's simply just not enough.

The Indians have already lost Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir, who both played integral roles in leading the team to the postseason last year. Do the Indians win 92 games without either of these two guys last year?

Probably not.

Kazmir has since moved on and signed a contract with the Oakland Athletics, yet Jimenez is still out there.

Now, get ready for one bold statement followed by a bold prediction.

The Indians need Ubaldo Jimenez to re-sign.

Ubaldo Jimenez will be a Cleveland Indian in 2014.

Sound a little too confident to you?

It may be, but this is something that really seems to be a logical fit.

The reality is that the Indians gained a whole lot of leverage when they extended a qualifying offer to Jimenez.

Jimenez was arguably the best pitcher in all of baseball during the second half of 2013, but he was also arguably the worst pitcher in all of baseball during the entire 2012 season.

His 2013 second half ERA of 1.82 with 100 strikeouts in 84 innings was mighty nice, but teams are still wary about trusting him moving forward. Now, if there were not a qualifying offer attached to Jimenez, then he likely would already be gone by now.

However, teams do not want to commit millions of dollars and also have to sacrifice a draft pick and money from their signing pool to sign Jimenez.

Of course, there is one team that does not have to sacrifice a draft pick to sign Jimenez: the Cleveland Indians.

Is it starting to make sense now?

As we get farther and farther into the offseason, it becomes more and more likely that Jimenez could return to Cleveland in 2014. He has previously expressed how happy he is in Cleveland, and the starting pitching market has yet to develop.

The other thing that cannot be overstated is the Mickey Callaway factor. Prior to this season, Jimenez was a mechanical mess. As noted earlier, he was easily the worst pitcher in all of baseball in 2012.

It was hard to even be cautiously optimistic heading into 2013, but Callaway somehow was able to work his magic. Jimenez's second half performance in 2013 was the best stretch of his career, and that says a lot because he was a pretty effective pitcher for many years in Colorado.

Jimenez likely realizes that he probably owes some of his success to Callaway, so he is probably open for a reunion in 2014, especially if the price is right.

Also, I want to be clear that it is also in the Indians' best interest to re-sign Jimenez. His performance during the second half of 2013 was not that of back-of-the-rotation or middle-of-the-rotation type starter. It was a bonafide ace-like performance; arguably the best performance that the Indians have seen from any pitcher in years.

Because of his history, there is always going to be some risk involved, but every move that the Indians have made this offseason has risk.

What if 2013 was the start of a trend and Murphy continues to struggle?

What if Axford is wild at the back of the bullpen and is removed from his closer's role by June?

Those are clear and fair questions. Questions also would surround the re-signing of Jimenez, but there is a marked difference between Jimenez and the team's acquisitions like Murphy and Axford.

Murphy is coming off a horrible 2013 season and Axford has not been a closer since 2012. In other words, the Indians are hoping that both of these players rebound and perform better than they did in 2013.

In comparison, Jimenez is coming off a brilliant 2013 season. Isn't it better to sign a player who is coming off success rather than failure?

There also seems to be a good chance that Jimenez's success could be sustainable. Take a look at the graph below. This shows Jimenez's velocity during the 2009 and 2010 seasons, when he was at his best in Colorado. In 2009, Jimenez went 15-12 with a 3.47 ERA, and he was even better in 2010 as he went 19-8 and posted a 2.88 ERA.

It's clear that this guy was an absolute flamethrower.

Yet, now here is a velocity chart for Jimenez's second half of 2013 where he went 8-5 with a 1.82 ERA.

The velocity is noticeably down from what it was in 2010. However, Jimenez had even better results during this stretch. One of the reasons for that was the fact that he was able to reduce his walks down to just 2.89 batters per nine innings while his career average is 4.0.

That's a good sign moving forward. It would be unrealistic to expect Jimenez to routinely post ERAs of 1.82, but it appears as if he can be a very effective starting pitcher. Callaway has stressed that the key for his success is repeating his delivery, and he seems to have taken that advice to heart.

There is no clear answer out there right now as to what Jimenez's salary in 2014 might look like. The reality is that the market has stalled, and that has to be a good thing for the Indians.

Look at the strides that Jimenez made in 2013, and now let's just speculate a bit. Let's say the Indians are able to sign Jimenez up for three years and $40 to 45 million. That type of contract would have seemed outlandish just two months ago, but it seems as if something in that neighborhood could become a reality.

Also, that contract is an absolute bargain if Jimenez continues to perform as he did during the second half of 2013. Aces do not come cheap, and Jimenez proved that he is still more than capable of being one.

We know the Indians seem to have an ace in the making in Salazar, but if they re-sign Jimenez, they could have a competent one-two punch for years to come.

The other reason why the Indians need to consider making a move on Jimenez is the fact that it is becoming less and less likely that Masterson returns to the Indians following the 2014 season.

Masterson will be eligible for free agency after this season, and there has been no news about a possible extension. If an extension is not reached by the beginning of the season, then it probably becomes a foregone conclusion that Masterson is traded at the deadline or leaves in free agency.

The Indians might be able to deal with the loss of one of the two pitchers, but there's no way they could survive the loss of most.

Also, the ironic thing is that while Jimenez may have more question marks (considering his up-and-down performance in recent years) than Masterson, but he also may have more upside.

The remarkable thing is that Masterson likely to get more money in free agency than Jimenez simply because he's been more consistent in recent years. So, in other words, the Indians might be able to re-sign a better pitcher (Jimenez) for a cheaper price than what it would cost to re-sign Masterson.

Masterson may just be the most important variable when it comes to re-signing Jimenez. If the Indians believe they can reach an extension with Masterson, then perhaps they stop pursuing Jimenez.

However, if they think Masterson is going to wait to test the free agent waters, then they need to do everything possible to re-sign Jimenez... and now.

The other variable here is Callaway. It would be interesting to have the opportunity to pick his brain, and the Indians front office has likely done just that. If Callaway could have just one of Masterson or Jimenez, who would he choose?

The Indians may ultimately have to make that decision.

Nonetheless, it's now December 20, and Jimenez's name has hardly even been mentioned among all the Hot Stove talk.

The market has been slow to develop, and it will probably stay that way until the situation with Japanese hurler Masahiro Tanaka is resolved. Still, we know that the goal this offseason is to get better. That means that the team needs to win more than 92 games in 2014.

Sorry, but there is no way that happens without another premiere starting pitcher in the fold.

Remember, Jimenez once said playing for Cleveland is like "heaven." He's always seemed to be an honest young man, so why should any of us not take him at his word now?

Steve can be reached via email at orbaneks@gmail.com.

User Comments

Joe Chengery
December 22, 2013 - 9:25 PM EST
One more thing: I'd forget Garza. He's older than Masterson and a tad older with Jimenez, and I don't think he's as good as either, yet would probably cost as much as Jimenez. He was solid with the Cubs in the NL, but not great with Texas (that DIDN't surprise me, all the more reason I was glad we DIDN'T trade for him). I'm not sure he can pitch in the AL at the level better than a 3 starter at best; I would certainly take Jimenez or Masterson over him, even with no loss of a draft pick. Look at how long it took him to become a solid starter, and never really was with MIN, only with TB. He's way too risky at that price for me compared to the other two, both of whom did better in the AL of late than Garza. Plus, there was an injury issue with him if I recall correctly- too risky compared to the other two in my opinion. The only way I consider him is if Jimenez is gone and Masterson isn't eager to sign, but still don't think he's at Jimenez's or Masterson's level.
Joe Chengery
December 22, 2013 - 9:13 PM EST
Truth be told, I think signing Jimenez is the less risky move over Masterson. The Indians can't afford to let both get away, and two draft picks isn't guaranteed to be much, especially since the Indians' drafting still isn't a strength (Chisenhall has been disappointing to this point, and Dillon Howard already looks like a bust). Plus, I'm not as sold on Masterson as some; in fact, I'd argue that Jimenez actually had a more dominating year last year than Masterson did. If you consider that Masterson's best three months were the first three months and Jimenez's best three were the last three, consider the following:

Going at least 5 IPs and giving up 3 ERS or fewer:

Masterson: 18/28
Jimenez: 25/32

Quality Starts:

Masterson: 18/28
Jimenez: 16/32


This shows that Jimenez had more consistency throughout the whole year than one might think. The biggest problem early on was that he was throwing 100 pitches in 5 IPs, even though he was keeping the other team largely off the board throughout most of the year outside of April, really Jimenez' only bad month. Masterson's was June when his ERA was over 4.

Both of them had bad starts: Jimenez gave up 7 ERs in April to BOS and NYY, and 6 to DET (last start he gave up more than 3 ERs in a game the rest of the season; had 2 starts where he gave up 5 runs the rest of the season). Masterson gave 7 ERs in April to KC, 5 to MIN in May, and 5 to BOS in May. He also gave up 7 ER to NYY and 6 to BAL in June, 6 to DET in July, and 5 to DET in August.

Also, while Jimenez did beat the likes of MIN, CHW, and HOU, he also shut out TEX in July over 8 IP, kept OAK to 1 ER over 5.2 IP in Aug and ATL to 3 ER over 7.0 IP in Aug, 0 ER vs BAL in 6 IP and 0 ER vs KC in 7.0 IP in Sept.

Really, I don't think these pitchers are that different, and Jimenez might have the better stuff of the two. Plus, you can still trade Masterson and get quality for him, whether that's a frontline starter like Corbin or a near-ready pitching prospect in Bradley from Arizona - something on that order; you can't do the same now with Jimenez. Jimenez would be cheaper as well.

In addition, if you look at their career norms, and Masterson had more the outlier season in 2013 than Jimenez did:

Masterson's career numbers (2013 numbers in parentheses):

ERA: 4.03 (3.45)
BB/9: 3.5 (3.6)
K/9: 7.5 (9.1)
H/9: 8.6 (7.3)

Jimenez:

ERA: 3.92 (3.30)
BB/9: 4.0 (3.9)
K/9: 8.3 (9.6)
H/9: 8.1 (8.0)

One other interesting stat: Masterson had 17 HBP and 8 WP, while Jimenez had 3 HBP and 8 WP.

Both could be in for a regression next year, and Jimenez had strikeout rates above 8/9 IP from 2009-2011, with 2012 looking more and more like an outlier. Masterson's only other year where his K rate was above 8/9 IP was 2009 (year he was traded to Cleveland), where 2013 looks more like the outlier. In terms of his BB rate, it's looking more like 2011 was the outlier; Masterson still hasn't regained that fine command from that season, where he pitched better than last year in my opinion.

The other three risks with trying to sign Masterson and losing Jimenez in the process:

1. Boston's rotation is getting long in the tooth with both Lackey and Dempster, so I fully expect them to be in the market for at least one starter, and you could argue that Masterson is up there or even better than Lester and Buchholz (not convinced about Buchholz's strong start last year and his injury issues). Combine that with John Farrell, Masterson's former pitching coach, being the manager, and I could certainly see Masterson bolting for Boston, with us reciving a low 1st-round draft pick in return.

2. Losing your top two pitchers from 2013 in successive years for two draft picks would be a PR nightmare for the Indians, just as the Indians are finally getting positive attention again.

3. You lose both of them, and you'll have to count on the likes of two of three long-term to be viable starters: Carrasco, Tomlin, Bauer. It'd be easier, and potentially better, if you only have to rely on one of the three to be in the rotation long-term. Plus, the starting market for pitchers is only going to get more expensive in the future, even for 4-5 starters. Add in that the only two viable starting pitching prospects over the next 2-3 seasons are Matt Packer and Joseph Colon, both questionable mid-rotation starters, probably better back-end starters, and both needing time, this leading to the Indians' current window closing before those two are ready to make an impact.

I think it's imperative that the Indians not lose both of them and sign a starter, and I think Jimenez is the less risky choice instead of gambling on Masterson, quite possibly losing both of them, then hoping those draft picks pan out in 3-5 years' time, when the Indians' current window largely shuts. You have to maximize the window by resigning Jimenez and trading Masterson or at worst, resigning Jimenez and taking the draft pick from Masterson.
John
December 22, 2013 - 12:37 PM EST
Is the last part about "heaven" made up?
Walter
December 21, 2013 - 1:32 PM EST
How times have changed, I believe 10 yrs ago if you had a 85-95 mil payroll you were considered a big market team. Today small market teams in order to compete need to spend this amount.
Willie
December 21, 2013 - 11:46 AM EST
Speaking of Carl Pavano, any word if he intend on coming back? Just curious...
Willie
December 21, 2013 - 11:44 AM EST
Yeah, and that could be the factor that leads to Jimenez resigning with the Tribe. I'd prefer Garza, but circumstances and cash could prevent that. Let me put it this way, IF I had to choose having Ubaldo for 3-4 yrs or keeping ACab this yr, I would trade ACab. I'm not saying signing Jimenez at the cost of Masterson, but I would give it serious consideration IF Masterson appears inclined to walk and Jimenez's mkt remains quiet.

Right now, it looks as IF teams are willing to wait out the Masahiro Tanaka saga. It has certainly slowed the mkt for Santana, Garza and Jimenez. There are also (mlbtrade)rumors the Yankees are trying to keep under the $189 M mark to avoid penalty, and go with in house arm, but there is the possibility they will move Suzuki or Gardner to save some cash to make a run at a SP.
Rich
December 21, 2013 - 11:18 AM EST
I don't think the Tribe can afford to risk the money it would take to sign Ubaldo. Look at Jake Westbrook. The guy was never injured and consistent as they come until he got a four-year deal, then he got hurt. That deal blew up in the Indians' face.

Teams like the Yankees can just absorb the loss when they make a bad signing like Pavano, and sign the next guy. The Indians can't do that.

That being said, if you're going to take a long term risk on a starter, you can't do much better than Masterson and Ubaldo. Those guys take the ball every fifth day and never miss a start. It took a couple of years for Ubaldo to learn how to pitch without the upper 90's fastball, but not that he's done it he should be a very good pitcher for at least another 4-5 years. Somebody will give him that kind of a deal, and Masterson will get one, too. Very unlikely either will be with Cleveland.
Rocky55
December 21, 2013 - 10:06 AM EST
Willie, excepting the Tribe, the team that signs Ubaldo also loses the slot value of their pick in their bonus pool, unless they have a protected pick.. I'm sure you know this but it's an additional consideration when it comes to signing FAs.
Tony
December 21, 2013 - 10:03 AM EST
It is not the first round pick that is preventing teams from signing the guys with qualifying offers. Again, teams have ALWAYS lost a first round pick or other picks when they signed players under the old system with Type A free agents (Type B and C stuff in past too). The wrinkle now is the new bonus pool and that first round pick carries with it close to 30-50% of a team's draft bonus pool depending on where they pick. That is a huge amount of money to lose. In the past, if a team lost a 1st round pick it was no big deal because they knew they could just throw $500K or $1.2M at a guy late and sign him and kind of get a first rounder then. You can't do that anymore.

Also someone said this in the comments: "The question is whether Ubaldo will be $15 million better than whatever starter he replaces, which will be the winner of the Tomlin/Bauer/Carrasco derby." I agree to an extent. The follow up question is this: Is Carrasco/Tomlin/Marcum/Bauer a better solution than blowing $15 million on Jimenez? That's the thing. Just as there are many question marks about the Indians 5th starter options, there are just as many with Jimenez. He had a nice showing the final 2 months of the season....but that does not instill confidence in me that he has turned the corner. If he proves it over the course of the next full season I would believe, especially it not being a free agent year.....that's why I would be leery about any significant spending on Ubaldo. If they end up doing it, fine, I will be happy they kept a piece from last year's rotation and be hopeful he really did revert back to his old form as a frontline pitching type. But I still wonder if they would even sign him if they wanted to because they may be looking at it as spending $15M on him and the uncertainties he brings versus spending $500K-$1M on their 5th starter options which have upside.
Willie
December 21, 2013 - 9:53 AM EST
Walter,

I think it's both, that is, value of the pick itself and leverage.

There's a huge percentage of first rounders that do make it to the show, the higher the pick, the more likely they make it statistically speaking.
Willie
December 21, 2013 - 9:50 AM EST
Robert,

I think there's a few things about their drafting that can be called into question. Before I do, I will say, I like Brad Grant, I think he's improved the system over his few yrs and has hit on a few talents, and in fact, there's more talent in the system now, then there has been in yrs.

This being said, you can only get what you pick. That is, they select low upside guys and that's exactly what they will get on the field. They have swayed from this in recent yrs, and it could pay off big with a few guys.

One area, I think they could improve is in the scouting and development departments. As a small mkt club this should be a high priority. It doesn't seem as if it has been, until recently, as they have made some changes to improve results.

Another area, I would call into question is their willingness to spend on the draft the last two yrs. they have spent money, bunt they have approached it trying to work within the constraints of the pool space they are given, but they let a few talents walk that I think they could have signed IF they had been willing to pay a little cash penalty to land the talent.

Herein lies the problem, They treat the pool space as a collective pool to be spent on the draft class. Then when it comes to pushing the envelop taking a cash penalty and getting better draft class by adding one / two more signings they have avoided paying the extra cash for that one player.

I think that view is a wrong line of thinking. The cash penalty, should, IMO, be viewed as a penalty on their entirety if their pool not for the allocation of funds designated to an individual. My point is, they should avoid draft pick penalty, but push the envelope to get higher qlty players. In so doing, they increase the probability of their return.

Sorry about the book, I will try to keep it to one chapter next time.
Walter
December 21, 2013 - 9:47 AM EST
Robert

I agree that history shows that most 1 round picks do not pan out and a lot do not make it to the majors.

but using that logic, Jimenez, and Santana would already have been signed on the FA market if 1st round pick was not important.

Or the teams are using it as an excuse/leverage in order to drop price value that they are seeking.

Willie
December 21, 2013 - 9:26 AM EST
Rocky,

I agree, Jimenez has a higher ceiling and has been more durable. By accounts Garza is completely healthy, and he offers consistency and #2 type upside. Plus, as far as I can recall Garza hasn't had surgery for the injuries he's incurred.

Justin Masterson is one of my favorite baseball people, he's a good natured guy and the things he does away from the field are even better. Those are just perks, as a Cleveland Indian it's his production from the mound. But because who he is away from the field and on the field, IMO, makes him a safer signing and possibly because of his character, he takes a team friendly deal for security long term.

This said, I think they have to offer him a deal something to the effect of 4 yrs / $60 with an option yr making it potentially 5 yrs / $75 M. IF he doesn't express interest in resigning then, IMO, they have to look to move him for now pieces. And in the meantime back fill his spot in the rotation with Garza or Jimenez.
Robert
December 21, 2013 - 2:17 AM EST
Yea, its always good to have a first-round pick, especially a high one, and an extra one is nice, but there's no way that they are anywhere near as valuable as an established FOR pitcher. Not even close. Let Masterson walk for a first-round pick? Are you kidding me?

My sense is that CA would like to keep improving and winning in this short term window, so I'd guess that extra first-round picks who take 2-4 years to develop aren't nearly as valuable as a stud like UJ you can run out there every five days. (and btw, there's no way the tribe is going to outbid the Angels, D-backs, Yankees or Rangers for Garza, we may want him, but there's simply no way imho that's going to happen)

Rocky's right, most first-rounders never pan out and it seems like the avg team hits the jackpot about once every 10 to 15 years. You can make that once every 20 to 30 years for this outfit.

I wonder why it is that they just can't draft well...?
Rocky55
December 20, 2013 - 11:55 PM EST
Willie, thanks for the clarification re Garza/draft pick compensation. I still prefer Ubie as I think he's more talented & more durable. Cleve in Cali, strongly disagree that any 1st Round compensation pick will be more valuable to the team than Ubaldo. This guy is a FOR SP. The last time we drafted one of those was 1998.
Walter
December 20, 2013 - 11:32 PM EST
I would only offer Jimenez a one yr contract. I prefer that he does sign elsewhere. I want the extra 1 round pick. It could be very interesting draft for the Tribe this upcoming June.
I would go after Garza.

With payroll being tight maybe they should go after Baker and Hanson in order to provide depth to the starting rotation.
Cleveland in Cali
December 20, 2013 - 11:13 PM EST
I'm with Tony..

I don't want any longterm money tied up in a pitcher who only pitched well in the second half of a contract year. To me, a first round draft pick is far more valuable at this point than Jimenez will ever be for the Tribe. Calloway clearly has had some influence on him (as well as the rest of the staff), but I feel the Tribe should do everything they can to resign Masterson comfortably. And in the event Masterson can't be resigned, you pick up the pieces and find a replacement. What the Tribe can't afford to do is waste money on marginal players simply to give the impression that they are trying to compete.
Robert
December 20, 2013 - 8:13 PM EST
I agree, the tribe could get lucky because Jimenez has a depressed market, which is a combination of the compensation draft pick and the very real question about him being a half-year wonder. I think that Callaway is maybe the only one who truly knows whether Jimenez can continue to pitch that well or is likely to fall back into bad habits.

But really, they've got to settle the Masterson situation soon, i.e. know if they are going to sign or trade. My hunch is that Justin's a goner, but who knows. I know that if I were him, there's no way I would sign. Instead, I'd pitch my tail off this year and get myself lined up for a 6-7 yr/ $110-130m deal.

There's no way the tribe's going to go there. So instead, I would feel real good about Jimenez at 3 years for $42m, with a $14m 4th year option. That's a good deal for both sides.
Mt88 in WI
December 20, 2013 - 7:57 PM EST
Allow me to clarify.. If I was UJ, I go to the tribe....

After 2014, the tribe can't make me a QO.

Remember- pending free agents traded mid season are unable to offered a QO so I make my agreement to include all teams with a 1 year offer...
MT88b in WI
December 20, 2013 - 7:50 PM EST
If UJ is still unsigned at mid January and the starter market is still muddled, I go to the Tribe with the following offer: 1 year at $11.5 base, $2.8 in incentives and the contract item that after 2013 the Tribe is unable to make a QO.

In the old CBA players would sign deals with agreements that the club could not offer arbitration after the season. Do something similar here...
Willie
December 20, 2013 - 7:20 PM EST
The Grant Balfour saga could get interesting...Balfour reportedly has been given a clean bill of health by two doctors, and is reportedly considering filing a grievance against the O's.

Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio, (per mlbtraderumors) speculates the Tribe might have interest in Balfour. That would be a bit surprising, but I guess stranger things have happened. I guess they could sign to a deal and then trade him or someone else at the deadline. But none of that makes sense for a club that is reportedly tight on funds, why tie up funds on a player the team really doesn't need.
Seth
December 20, 2013 - 7:18 PM EST
Tony, I don't think they need to shed payroll to sign Ubaldo. It would stretch the budget this year, but next year it would just be replacing Masterson. Or maybe Bourn has a good year and they shed his salary and retain Masterson too
Willie
December 20, 2013 - 7:11 PM EST
Rocky,

I favor Garza bc I think he's more of a certainty than Jimenez. BTW, bc he was trade mid-season he will NOT cost a draft pk or pool money. Garza was not eligible to receive the QO offer.
Rocky55
December 20, 2013 - 6:31 PM EST
I favor Ubaldo because:

I believe that he'll be cheaper than Masterson.

He's more talented than Masterson.

He's more likely to sign than Masterson.

All he costs is money. Garza costs money + draft pick + bonus pool.

He's more likely to sign for a shorter term deal than Masterson.

I have the feeling that if Masterson makes it to FA, all the RedSux have to do is crook their fingers & he'll go shrieking after them like a teenage girl at a Bieber concert.

I'd be shocked if Masterson signs with the Tribe. Make as good an offer as you can, give him a deadline to accept & if he declines I'd say trade him or let him walk. Be sure to make the qualifying offer & take the draft pick.

Roger
December 20, 2013 - 5:47 PM EST
the latest rumor is wilson benemit that would be a wise undervalued signing have him bat right and platoon with chiz. that type of set up is tito's type of player i am not sure we have a roster spot for him but we should have 10 players
counting the two catchers and two RF means we have three roster spots availlable aveles would be 11 giambi 12 there is spot for him.
Rick
December 20, 2013 - 5:11 PM EST
I like Rich's thinking - making Ubaldo basically a Kazmir replacement in what is I believe (and the Tribes FO by their inaction) is still too pricy a market.

A couple of notes.

First everything that I once thought would make Ubaldo a possible resign here is out the window with the recent Japan market veto. With the Tanaka deal nixed you still have clubs with lots of money to throw around who are desperate to land any semblance of a live arm.

Look at the B & C-list signings with the Royals and Twins in our own division. Twins GM Terry Ryan is no shrinking numchuck with it comes to throwing money at lousy pitchers - but he held his nose and did it. Because he had no choice.

I always thought since Ubaldo is a total roll of the dice with his mechanical issues, and he had some success here, when those big market teams like the Skanks and Rangers and name the rest would never take a risk - he would resign here for a reasonable hometown discount that doesn't make him look like a fool.

But now?

When a pretty shrewd shopper like Ruben Amaro is giving Formerly Fausto 3-4 million for a year to eat innings?

Nothing in this market will actually surprise me...

Except us being able to retain the mess that can sometimes become Ubaldo...for anything that makes sense money wise.

I would love to have him back for 10 million on a year but Tony is right - any one year deal is like surrender for Ubaldo and it's unlikey to get him at 15 million if he did surrender.

And there is no comparison as far as I am concerned. Ubaldo at his best doesn't belong in the same conversation with Masterson because Ubaldo at his worst is always just a game or even an inning away.

Keeping Masterson is the right move.

Rememeber this - a lot of people discount the price we paid for Ubaldo because White ended up hurt and Pomeranz wound up a mess.

It's possible the Rockies screwed him up - and he may yet pan out - AND - White may surprise and come back as well.

Don't over value the risk of Ubaldo - or the possibility of Ubaldo - because he dazzled during 10+ starts against the likes of the Royals, Twins, White Sox and Astros - during an exiting Aug and incredible Sept.
yourtribe
December 20, 2013 - 5:04 PM EST
Only take him back for no more than 2 yrs and no more than 12 mil per yr. Nothing in his history says consistency so dont expect much if any consistency going forward. He lit the world on fire first half of '10 for col.then nothing until late '13.
Walter
December 20, 2013 - 5:00 PM EST
I think we should not offer a 5 yr contract to Masterson. If Masterson arm blow up we will be stuck with a bad contract for years. Remember we did sign Westbrook to long term contract ( I think it was 4 yr not sure) his arm blew up after 2007 season.

If I was Ubaldo I would sign for a one year deal. If he has better year than last year than he would be just as marketable next year as the other pitchers mentioned.
Willie
December 20, 2013 - 4:44 PM EST
Rich,

I think if the mkt is slow, 3/$39 M will get Jimenez, might have to go $4/52 (similar to Edwin Jackson's deal). I think they will look to make another move to take advantage of some falling prices. IF they find the right deal for ACab (maybe Bourn - doubtful) they would seemingly jump in one Jimenez or Garza. That (moving ACab) could be tied to Stephen Drew's mkt, but IF the Tribe ate a small part of ACabs deal or took a bad lesser contract back, they might get a deal done, without losing the flexibility to make a splash.
Willie
December 20, 2013 - 4:31 PM EST
Completely agree, Carrasco is best suited out the pen. He looked very sharp and made comments to effect of how comfortable he was on the mound.

I think it's pretty simple... offer Masterson a 4 yr deal with a vesting 5 yr option that he can hit reasonably (say 600-700 IP) unless he just blows up his arm. Here's how they could lay it out... 4 yrs / $58 M + $2 M buyout (guarantees him 4/$60M) + $15 M vesting option total contract: 5/$75 M.

Yr 1 - $10.75 M ($1 M more than he's projected in arb).
Yr 2 - $15.50 M
Yr 3 - $15.75 M
Yr 4 - $16.00 M
*Yr5* - $15.00 M

I think they need to make Masterson an offer, IF he doesn't accept. Then offer similar to Jimenez and Garza sign one, and then flip Masterson for young controllable big league ready players.
Rich
December 20, 2013 - 4:16 PM EST
The question is whether Ubaldo will be $15 million better than whatever starter he replaces, which will be the winner of the Tomlin/Bauer/Carrasco derby.

Tomlin and Carrasco have gotten through their TJ surgeries and should be ready to go. Bauer has revamped his mechanics (again) and the reports are positive.

I'd be willing to gamble that with three rolls of the dice we get one big winner. I think the front office feels the same way. I don't think they'll sign Ubaldo even if his price comes down to something like 3/39. It might have to get to the point where nobody is offering him more than 2 years and $22 million, which is where we would come into play.
Jeff
December 20, 2013 - 4:00 PM EST
I think it may be worth considering that although yes signing ubaldo is risky, so is going into the season hoping that one of tomlin carrasco bauer marcum doesnt suck and that nobody misses any starts (this simply doesnt happen). If we get unaldo back, carrasco can face big league bats out of the bullpen, which makes the pen more effective and prepares him for spot starts that inevitably will come up
Tony
December 20, 2013 - 3:18 PM EST
And I see no way Ubaldo signs a one year deal. If so, if he has a good year next season he is very likely right back where he is this offseason. You have Shields, Masterson, Peavy, Kershaw, Gallardo, Baily, Lester and so on all hitting free agency.....and all arguably better. It will be a deep market where teams will have to forfeit 1st round picks for a lot of top pitchers (assuming none are traded), so it will be all about aligning value on who makes the most sense and who is the most reliable guy to sign. Ubaldo has to get his multi-year now, or he'll take an even bigger hit next offseason.
Tony
December 20, 2013 - 3:14 PM EST
I'd rather take a shot at Masterson and get a 1st round pick for Jimenez. And if Masterson does not work out, get a 1st round pick for him next year.

I'm fine if they resign Ubaldo....but I still can't see it if they have to dump payroll (Cabrera or Bourn). So, the question then is, would you rather resign Ubaldo and trade Masterson and Bourn/Cabrera and get back some young players....or keep Masterson for 2014, take a shot on Carrasco/Bauer/Tomlin for the the spot, keep Bourn/Cabrera and also get a first round pick.

That's too complex for me lol. I just look at it simply as if they resign Ubaldo, then Masterson is probably as good as gone. Just can't see how they can afford four players on the roster making $12M or more a year.
ted
December 20, 2013 - 3:11 PM EST
Ubaldo might be open to a on season contract, for a lower price. This would give other teams a look at him with back to back successful seasons. That could help him wield a bigger contract in the winter of 2014.
Jarad
December 20, 2013 - 3:09 PM EST
Tony, the difference between "rather having Masterson" isn't apples to apples. if you sign Ubaldo, you can then either have both for a year, or trade Masterson. Would you rather have Masterson, or Ubaldo and two great young players?
Willie
December 20, 2013 - 2:57 PM EST
I'm beginning to think you're right... I think the Tribe will jump in on someone whose price has dropped. They haven't went into this offseason without a plan. I think dropping Chris Perez was the first step of that plan - providing themselves with some flexibility and removing a distraction. This last week has been very methodical - almost calculated.

Almost as if CA were going down his Christmas shopping list and checking his wishes off as he got him.
RF - check
CL - check
SP depth - check
3rd C - check
LHRP - check

I'm looking for more pitching...

Axford > CPerez
Outman > Hill

But the SP is lacking, Marcum can help if he is healthy, but counting on Salazar, Kluber, McAllister and whoever wins the fifth spot, is a mistake. The Tribe needs to upgrade their SP, and they haven't done that yet. They have added depth in Marcum and Cloyd, but I don't think we should expect anything from either.

The longer Jimenez remains on the mkt, the more likely the Indians resign him, IMO. Jimenez only made $5.7 M last yr, as such, I could see a scenario where they resign him for 3-4 yrs, potentially with a vesting option that is more backloaded a la the Michael Bourn contract.

There has been some speculation the Tribe will resign Jimenez and then deal Masterson, I think it should be on the table. I'd even add Matt Garza to the mix, we know the Tribe had interest last yr. I think it could be reasonable for the Tribe to go 3-4 yrs with a vesting option at more $ for Garza or Jimenez and then move Masterson for younger controllable players. Maybe something like 3/$48 M with a vesting option $12 M for Jimenez (or Garza). Then flipping Masterson to AZ for Trevor Cahill and David Hernandez. Point being, there could be more going on than meets the eye.
Matthew
December 20, 2013 - 2:44 PM EST
I couldn't agree more with the tenor of this piece. The Indians really need Ubaldo back. It's a risk I think they just have to take. They will likely have to dump some salary to do it, which most likely means giving Cabrera away for almost nothing in return. When Lohse's market collapsed last year, he ended up getting 3/33. As Indians fans, we have to hope tyhe same happens for Ubaldo and that we could get him back on a 3 year, $35-40M deal.
Roger
December 20, 2013 - 2:43 PM EST
12-14 isnt that bad in the 21st century american league. If a little over 10 million it isnt that bad. I think Ubaldo is gonna regret not accepting the QO he wont get 14.1 million in 2014. maybe 11.4 using the same numbers in different order. i was right about scott kazmir last january and wrong about chiz so i have a 500 batting avg. just to put a number lets say 41 for 3.
Steve
December 20, 2013 - 2:34 PM EST
I am big guy on ceiling, which is why I love Jimenez so much.

There is no doubt that when he's on his game, he is the better pitcher than Masterson. Clearly, Masterson has been much more consistent over the last three seasons, but when Jimenez is on, it's scary. That was the case last season, and that's also been the case many times when he was in Colorado.

Ideally, it would be nice to for the Indians re-sign both Masterson and Jimenez. But my fear though is that Masterson they lose both of them. That is not something they can afford. They need to get a pulse on how likely it is that they will re-sign Masterson. If he expresses that he wants to wait until next offseason, then they need to go after Jimenez now and big time.

If, and this is a big if, Jimenez has come full circle, then this could be one of the greatest contracts in recent memory.
Tony
December 20, 2013 - 2:28 PM EST
Jimenez scares the bejesus out of me. He struggled the last 2+ years and only put it together late this year. Was it Callaway or was it the lights going on upstairs to pitch his ass off so he gets paid? Or, was it also a fortunate run of starts against some crappy competition down the stretch?

I just don't have a lot of faith in finding out either way. Maybe he turned a corner, maybe he didn't. But that's still going to be at least a three year and potentially $10M per risk to take....something I am not comfortable doing. We will see.....but if I have to have one or the other, I just use any Ubaldo money to try and resign Masterson who is a better and more consistent pitcher. And not such an enigma.
Rocky55
December 20, 2013 - 1:48 PM EST
I know that Tony disagrees but I'd take Jimenez over Masterson every day of the week & twice on Sunday.
ron Vollmar
December 20, 2013 - 1:48 PM EST
Ubaldo Jimenez would be a nice pick-up for this year.

Looking at his recent history, with the Cleveland Indians, would you give him a three year contract and would you pay $10 million a year?

Is Jason Knapp, SP, talking with the Cleveland Indians. Reading an earlier report, it was nice to see him coming back to pitching. Does he have an interest in coming back to Cleveland?
Choo obviously doesnt understand numbers either...
December 20, 2013 - 1:44 PM EST
see i worry about having ubaldo back, im not trying to be a pessimist at all, but dude has been a career .500 at best pitcher until 2013... and yes, he was unhittable and arguably the best pitcher maybe even in the majors the second half and likely the reason the tribe made the playoffs. but the thing no one seems to mention is that ubaldo did wonderful the second half of when??? his contract year. yes, I too believe he is a super hard worker, and a lot of credit goes to mickey calloway as well, but I find it awfully ironic that ubaldo had lights out numbers in a contract year.
now im not saying we don't resign him, however im not in favor of overpaying for him for 4 years just to see him go 12-14 the next three and a half years til we trade him...
I know the rotation has a couple of serious holes and he would help to anchor the rotation... just find it rather funny that there has been no heat on ubaldo at all in the hot stove coming off a contract year.
Daingean
December 20, 2013 - 1:39 PM EST
I think there's a chance.....we'll see......Kyle Lohse was unsigned till late spring and UJ might be in the same situation. The FO will sign him if it's a bargain (at their price not his)....it all depends on if someone goes after him.
matt underwood
December 20, 2013 - 1:25 PM EST
i hope you are right - we sure could use him

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