Orioles Finally Make A Free Agent Splash To Salvage Winter

By Nicholas Delahanty (MLB Reports O’s Writer)  

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Orioles Sign Ubaldo Jimenez 

The Orioles could not catch a break this off-season, as they lost out on free agents that they coveted as well as missing out on closer Grant Balfour , after he failed the team’s physical.

Bronson Arroyo balked at even going for a physical seeing what happened to the Aussie – opting to sign with the D-Backs even though the money was similar, rather than have his worth devalued by flunking the doctor’s visit from the O’s.

Tyler Colvin also fell victim to Baltimore’s stringent doctors, while Grady Sizemore didn’t have a chance to pass a physical with the club either despite Orioles interest.

Orioles fans all over wondered what the team’s intentions were, as many felt the team could be a serious contender with the core they have in place, but some moves needed to be made to bolster the roster.

On Monday night, the Orioles finally made a big splash in free agency that everyone anxiously awaited. The team announced they agreed to a four-year, $48 MM deal with pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez.

This is a huge move for the Orioles as an organization, as it now shows their fan base that they are willing to spend big money on key free agents.

The O’s have been linked to many of the big name free agents throughout the offseason, only to come up short when it came to signing them.

Jimenez helps bolster a rotation that needed a veteran presence. He will have a tough task of facing a very tough AL East division, who arguably have some of the best lineups in all of baseball.  This guy has hit and miss stuff – and when he is on, is one of the hardest pitchers to hit in the MLB.

If you’re an Orioles fan, for once I think the Boston Red Sox and Ryan Dempster also helped your ball club by expediting the process.

When the Canadian announced that he will sit out the 2014 season, walking away from over $13 MM dollars, it seems as it sparked the O’s to make a quick push in fear that Boston would jump in and make a big push for him.

Along with the Red Sox’s recent need for another starting pitcher, AL East division rival Toronto Blue Jays were also in on Jimenez, but seem to be more interested in nothing at all, or maybe Ervin Santana.

Even if the Sox weren’t involved in the Jimenez sweepstakes, it definitely forced Dan Duquette’s hand to make a quick move.

With the completion of the signing, some of the heavy pressure from the Baltimore faithful is taken off Duquette’s shoulders… for now.

In the past, the team has been reluctant to hand out four-year contracts to free agent pitchers, but the trend changed as they were able to grab the 30-year-old who has shown signs of greatness in the past.  

Jimenez had a big comeback season for the Cleveland Indians last year, as he posted a 13 – 9 record with a 3.30 ERA as he helped lead the Indians back to the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

Looking at Jimenez’s numbers, the most impressive part of his 2013 season is how well he pitched after the All-Star break.

In 13 starts from July to September, the RHP posted a 1.85 ERA, as he looked like the pitcher he was a few years back when he played for the Colorado Rockies.

The Orioles shouldn’t expect to get that same guy, but if he pitches anything like he did in the second half of last season, this move will be beneficial to the club.

JImenez was on top of the world in 2009, with a 13 - 0 start, and a no - hitter, he then had 3 years of futility before a sharp 2nd half turnaround in 2013 - where he had an ERA under 2 from the ASG on. Jimenez had an outstanding second half of the 2013 season, as he posted a 1.85 ERA in 13 starts. He finished the season with a 13-9 record and a 3.30 ERA, helping the Indians to their first playoff berth since 2007.

JImenez was on top of the world in 2009, with a 13 – 0 start, and a no – hitter, he then had 3 years of futility before a sharp 2nd half turnaround in 2013 – where he had an ERA under 2 from the ASG on. He finished the season with a 13-9 record and a 3.30 ERA, helping the Indians to their first playoff berth since 2007.

Along with the benefit of adding another pitcher who can fit right into your rotation, the club also had to give up the 17th overall pick in next year’s draft to Cleveland as compensation for signing Jimenez.

Although you pass up on a chance to draft a player who can help you in the future, the O’s are definitely in win now mode.  The odds of that pick actually making it to the Majors is relatively small anyway.

Can This Orioles Team Compete?

When I look at this ball club, I see a window of 3-4 years to have a legit chance to compete, as they keep their young stars around, such as Manny Machado, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters.

In order to compete, the team must try to put the best pieces together to mesh with these players, not only to show them that they are willing to try to win, but also to try to keep them around once they hit the free agent market.

If they show signs of not improving, you can rest assure that Davis and Wieters would end up elsewhere once they hit the free agent market in 2016.

Orioles Sign Suk-min Yoon

The team made it shown that they are looking at every way to improve by signing Korean star Suk-min Yoon to a three-year deal.

AP

AP

Yoon is an interesting player, as it is not really clear yet where the O’s feel he will fit best on their staff, but this move definitely adds to their depth and also shows the team is willing to go out and pursue some top-tier free agents, along with some international players that make the jump to the United States.

As I look at the Ubaldo Jimenez deal, I see a great hope for the future of the Orioles. Throughout the offseason, I questioned whether Duquette and crew were willing to dish out big contracts to players, as it seemed as if they were hesitant to do so.

This provides hope that the team will extend their core of guys to keep this team together, hoping to compete for many years to come.

What Else Can The Orioles Do To Bolster Their Roster?

As nice as these two pitching acquisitions are, the Orioles still have room to improve, and there is two free agents left on the market that I definitely would consider looking into.

Nelson Cruz, a power hitting outfielder who has been linked to the Orioles throughout the offseason, still looks for a new home, as it is very unlikely he will return to Texas.

This is the type of bat that the O’s could use, as he would add protection for Chris Davis and Matt Wieters.

Adding a right-handed power bat such as Cruz would definitely bolster the roster, as you need a lot of offense to compete in a very tough AL East.

An alternative could be Kendrys Morales, who spent the 2013 season with the Seattle Mariners.

Morales would have to serve as a Designated Hitter for the Orioles (which most people in the game believe he’s best suited for), but would be a nice addition, as his ability to hit from both sides of the plate would add flexibility to the lineup.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that the O’s are still one of the potential suitors for Morales, as now they can focus on adding another bat to the lineup now that they acquired the starting pitcher they desperately wanted.

If the O’s sign either of those two players, they would also not have to forfeit another 1st Round pick – as Cleveland already has received that with the Jimenez signing.  Another reason to do it.

If the Orioles are unable to land one of these two remaining big name free agents, trade possibilities could emerge. An interesting name could be Ike Davis from the New York Mets, who struggled through most of the 2013 season.

For a guy who hit 32 HRs in  2012, the 26-year-old could not get in a groove last season, and maybe a change of scenery would help him out – and he could over the DH position, while playing 1B if needed .

What a better situation for Davis then by playing in Baltimore? Davis’ left-handed swing would be a great fit in Camden Yards, which is a ballpark that has a short porch in right field.

Along with the ballpark helping Davis get back his power surge, the pressure wouldn’t be on him like it is in New York, as he’s expected to be a superstar who helps carry the Mets back to the promise land.

With another Davis taking the superstar role in Baltimore, Ike Davis would be able to just be another piece to the puzzle, and I definitely think that can benefit him greatly. If the Mets’ asking price is worth the risk, it’s definitely a gamble to consider taking.

What Does the Orioles Future Look Like?

As I look at the Ubaldo Jimenez deal, I see a great hope for the future of the Orioles. Throughout the offseason, I questioned whether Duquette and crew were willing to dish out big contracts to players, as it looked like they were hesitant to do so.

Through the recent signings, the Baltimore Orioles made it known to the rest of the league that they are serious about contending over the next few seasons, as the team definitely has a core of players they can build around.

If the season started today, they still have a few holes left to be filled, but adding another pitcher such as Jimenez definitely improves the team’s chances of competing for a playoff spot in 2014.

The signing of Jimenez definitely helps the Orioles, but there are still concerns about what the future holds. Both Chris Davis and Matt Wieters become free agents in 2016, so the team’s window to compete has to be now in the next couple of years.  Hopefully the brass will continue to pursue players with a sense of ‘win now’ mentality.  After a long winter of failures to produce on promises, at least 2 new Free Agent have been finally added to the plight.

*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com or their partners ***

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A big thanks goes out to our Guest Writer Nicholas Delahanty for preparing today’s featured article.  Nicholas is a current student at Felician College, studying Broadcast Journalism with a minor in English.

He served as the Broadcast and Media Relations Intern for the New Jersey Jackals in 2013, and also hosts a radio show on WRFC Felician College Radio Station called ‘Around the Bases.’

Nicholas recently started working as a broadcaster for Felician College Basketball games, and is a student-writer for the college’s monthly magazine.

He volunteers as a baseball and basketball coach in Garfield, New Jersey, and also volunteers as the announcer for the town’s Junior Boilermaker Football program.

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About nickdelahantymlbreports

Team Correspondent Writer for MLBReports.com, covering the Baltimore Orioles

Posted on February 21, 2014, in Free Agency, MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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