The Orioles' strategy this offseason has been confusing at best and misguided and embarrassing at worst, but that's something we will get into in the near future. There's plenty to discuss.
Arroyo and Burnett have already been covered by Camden Depot, but Santana and Jimenez have not. This post will focus on Jimenez.
Jimenez, who recently turned 30, would give the Orioles a solid option to go along with a thin rotation of Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, and Bud Norris (or Kevin Gausman, or Zach Britton, or T.J. McFarland, etc.). He would likely be the team's de facto ace, with Tillman being his only real challenger. Jimenez is no longer the same pitcher from 2008 through 2010 with the Rockies, when he struck out a little over eight batters per game, kept his HR/9 down despite pitching in Colorado, and had a groundball percentage near 50%. But he's still quite good, and he has seemingly turned things around after a disappointing 2012 season with the Indians.
Jimenez is not someone who will consistently throw mid-90s fastballs anymore -- last year his average fastball velocity was 92.1 mph, the lowest it has ever been -- but he's gotten back to throwing more sinkers, and for the first time since 2009 he threw more sliders than four-seam fastballs. He also keeps cutting down on his curveball usage. Despite his decreased velocity, though, Jimenez still gets pretty good movement on his pitches, which makes the decreased velocity easier to stomach.
Tony Blengino of FanGraphs recently rated Jimenez as the best of the Jimenez-Garza-Santana troika, adding:
[O]ne has to conclude that Ubaldo Jimenez is . . . the one most worthy of a significant investment. His profile is somewhat unusual for a 30-year-old — especially the elevated walk rate — and there is a history of inconsistency, but there is No. 2 starter upside here, coupled with an ongoing clean bill of health.
|Ubaldo Jimenez (via Keith Allison)|
2013 was the first season in which Jimenez struck out more than nine batters per nine innings, so it would be foolish to expect him to do that from now on. But as long as he keeps his walks under four batters per nine innings, keeps the home runs allowed down, and produces a decent groundball percentage, his ERA should remain around 4 while he continues to chew up innings.
Garza recently signed a four-year, $50 million deal, so Jimenez may get something close to that. Unlike Garza, though, signing Jimenez (like Santana) would cost the Orioles their first-round pick. Considering that the Orioles have never handed a free agent pitcher a deal for more than three years, signing Jimenez is unlikely. But until he's officially signed, there's always some sort of chance it could happen. But I wouldn't count on it, and I wouldn't be surprised if the O's front office favors Arroyo (shorter deal, less money) over Jimenez and Santana.