Is Ubaldo Jimenez An Option?

By Rich Sparago

On November 2nd, Indians pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez declined his $8 million option for 2014, making him a free agent. The Indians now have until Monday night to make a qualifying offer to him, which will impact most teams that may attempt to sign Jimenez.

If a qualifying offer is made, and a team other than the Indians signs Jimenez, that team must surrender its first-round draft pick in the 2014 draft if their pick is unprotected. This does not apply to the Mets, who finished with the 10th worst record in baseball, and therefore have a protected pick. So is Jimenez a possible fit for the Mets?

Aug 17, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez (30) leaves the field after being replaced after allowing the first hit by the Oakland Athletics during the sixth inning at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets are looking for pitching depth, and Jimenez certainly can be a nice addition. In 2013, Jimenez posted a 13-9 record with a 3.30 ERA over 182.2 innings pitched. His WHIP was 1.33, and he had a strikeout to walk ratio of nearly 2.5:1. His career record is 82-75, and he’ll be just 30 years old next year. Jimenez even has a no-hitter to his credit (April 17th 2010 against the Braves). But here’s the problem with signing Jimenez, and it’s a refrain we’ll probably hear often until February.

Jimenez will likely cost in the neighborhood of $14 million next season. That’s the amount of this year’s qualifying offers, and Jimenez will command at least that much on the open market. He’s a solid starter, and will not come inexpensively.

Word is that the Mets will have around $40 million to spend. The math here is not complicated. Jimenez would cost over a third of the Mets’ available money, and the Mets will still have numerous holes to fill. Even if they go the trade route, the Mets may be bringing in players who will drive the payroll up.

The moral of the story is that Sandy Alderson has to be wise with how he allocates the team’s resources this off-season, and we, as fans, have to have realistic expectations. That’s why I suggested here that the Mets may want to consider Chris Capuano, who became a free agent this week as well. Capuano isn’t as good as Jimenez. But when you’re filling many holes, you won’t get a star at every position. And we have to keep in mind that when it comes to starting pitching, the Mets are looking for someone to do a serviceable job until the prospects (Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard) are ready.

I’d like to have Ubaldo Jimenez on the 2014 Mets. But I think in the grand scheme of things, he’s simply too costly for the role he’ll be asked to perform. What do you think?

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