June 7, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez (30) walks off the field after being relieved fourth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
According to Ken Rosenthal, the Baltimore Orioles and starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez have agreed to terms on a free agent contract.
Jimenez had a very nice bounce-back season in 2013. He was a big part of the reason why Cleveland finished only a single game behind the Tigers in the division standings, and his production will be difficult for them to replace. He probably wasn’t going to be the same pitcher in 2014 that he was in 2013 — regression and all that jazz — but his departure underscores that the Indians are losing one of their biggest contributors from a year ago.
Even if Danny Salazar becomes everything Steamer projects him to be in 2014 (163 innings, 3.43 ERA, 3.2 WAR), he’ll be merely reproducing the value that Jimenez’s provided, not necessarily making the team better than they were.
The Indians look like a reasonable team with a reasonable rotation capable of posting a reasonable record, but they also very much look like a team who will need everything to break their way in order to win the division. This was nearly the case last year when Cleveland came up one game short of Detroit (but still made the playoffs as a Wild Card team).
Letting Ubaldo walk may very well have been the right move for Cleveland, but, even so, it’s not a move that will help them catch the Tigers in the short-term.