The Case For Ubaldo Jimenez


David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Ubaldo Jimenez is a good major league starting pitcher. He, famous for his excellent season in Colorado in 2009, and slowly deteriorating back to earth. So here I am, making the case to you about Jimenez. The reality is he’s a very good starter. Maybe not an ace, but the Dodgers certainly don’t need one. Perhaps in Dodger stadium I could see why a loss of a 1st round pick and lots of money could be justified.

If you look at Jimenez’s career, he’s only had 1 bad season. This is a pitcher who’s been a 3.76 fWAR pitcher for the last 6 seasons. 22/6 fWAR in 6 seasons is a good looking pitcher. He has had ERA’s in the 3’s for his entire career (that he’s been a full time starter) outside of 2011 and 2012, his strikeout rate is a cool 8.27 career mark. It seems whenever he’s kept the ball in the park, he’s been an excellent pitcher. His fWAR numbers  would have been far better but his mechanics were a mess in 2012 season. This past season Jimenez figured out his mechanics and figured out his issues.

Just look at the Dodger’s starting rotation.

Clayton Kershaw

Zach Greinke

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Dan Haren

Josh Beckett

If you slot Ubaldo Jimenez there, he becomes the 4th best starter on the Dodgers. Insane. It would instantly catapult the Dodgers into the best rotation in the league, having 5 starters who could reasonably start a playoff game, 4 of those would be at least #2 starters on most teams. I just think it’s too much to pass up.

Next lets look at the pitching market. Matt Garza just got 4 years 50 million from the Brewers, and Garza didn’t have draft pick compensation. If you think Jimenez gets less than that, he’s looking at 3/39 (an absolute steal) or possibly 4/48 (a great bargain). Of course he could get more because of his arm, but it’s not like he’s looking at a massive 6/100 deal or even 5/85. This is not an unreasonable contract considering his relative youth, upside, and previous success. This guy has had 2 5+ fWAR seasons in Colorado. Yes this was long ago, but he’s had success in lots of places.

Finally the big question. OMGOMGOMGOMG DRAFT PICK!!!

The draft pick isn’t a big deal. Not when you’re this close to a world series. This is a very lazy assumption, but 1st round picks, more particularly ones in the 20’s are far from sure things to succeed in the major leagues. You have the outliers like Mike Trout, but for the most part they are volatile prospects (all prospects are volatile). I understand people who think the draft pick is invaluable in today’s game, but if you can get a pitcher like Ubaldo Jimenez, who certainly makes your team better, you take that option over a player who may or may not pan out.

Besides, losing a draft pick isn’t the worst thing in the world. There’s a thing called the international market. You can take chances in the international market, and go above the spending limits put in place for one season that you don’t have a draft pick to compensate. It’s not as if no draft pick = bad farm for years to come. One season without a first round pick isn’t going to kill a team’s farm system, and if it does then the problem isn’t the lack of draft picks, it’s something deeper like the player development system. Look at the potential free agents from the Dodgers next year and  you see 2 qualifying offers waiting to happen, Dan Haren, Brian Wilson. This gives you 2 extra picks next season. With the non-Masahiro Tanaka pitching market this bad (for pitchers that is), Ubaldo Jimenez would be a welcome addition in my eyes and I don’t think his value should be dismissed because of one bad season 2 seasons ago.