According to Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports, the Orioles had to offer Ubaldo Jimenez a fourth year in order to sign him. Jimenez also received interest from other teams in need of a pitcher, such as the Blue Jays and Mariners. This is the second notable starting pitcher the Orioles have signed this offseason, as they officially announced they locked up Korean Suk-Min Yoon to a three-year deal this afternoon.
The Orioles have needed starting pitching. Badly. The Orioles finished 27th in the MLB in ERA with a 4.57 mark from starting pitching in 2013. They also finished 22nd in innings pitched. The batting average against from starting pitchers ranked 23rd with a .266 average. It was obvious the Orioles needed pitching. However, three of the Orioles' starters finished with an ERA+ north of 100. But only two of them were able to pitch over 100 innings.
Jimenez should make nearly an immediate impact in Baltimore. The 30-year-old right-hander went 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA in 182 2/3 innings pitched with the Cleveland Indians in 2013 (114 ERA+). Jimenez racked up 194 strikeouts compared to just 80 walks. His dominance helped the Indians reach the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
During his career, Jimenez has been up and down. In 2010, he was one of the best pitchers in the National League, going 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA in 221 2/3 innings pitched with the Colorado Rockies (161 ERA+). He went to his only All Star game that season. But from the 2011 to 2012 seasons, he was just downright awful. Jimenez went 19-30 (including a league-worst 17 losses in 2012) with a 5.03 ERA in 365 innings pitched (82 ERA+) during that time.
Jimenez having a rebound campaign in 2013 helped him cash in this offseason. A very pricey piece for the Orioles indeed; Jimenez will also cost the team their number 17 overall pick. But in a very competitive American League East division, the Orioles had to do whatever it took.