Ubaldo Jimenez has been more than disappointing for the Cleveland Indians since they acquired him from the Colorado Rockies. He posted a 5.10 ERA with the Indians in 2011 and also had arm issues, which raised some red flags right after the Indians landed the power right-hander in hopes of a playoff attempt.
Ubaldo was underwhelming again this year, losing 17 games while winning just 9 in 31 starts. He posted a 5.40 ERA and struck out 143 (7.28 K/9) batters in 176.2 innings pitched. His velocity was down considerably, but when you dig a little deeper into his numbers last year, his peripherals where not far off his career average, which could imply he’s battling back from arm problems. Now, I know the San Diego Padres have had more than their share of injuries (especially pitchers), but it could be beneficial to take a chance on Jimenez.
Jimenez is still only 28 years old and only two years removed from a legitimate ace. He’s only making $5.75 million in 2013 with a club option ($1 million buyout) for 2014 at $8 million which would make him extremely affordable if he returns to ace form. The Indians could be looking to rid themselves of a few contracts, although dealing him now would not net the Indians the type of prospects they gave up to acquire him. While PETCO Park is being modified this offseason, it will remain a pitcher-friendly park that could benefit Jimenez, helping restore his value as a potential trade chip or in hopes of contending in 2013 for a playoff push.
The free-agent market for potential ace pitchers, or legit front-line starters is one of the weakest in years. In addition, while the Padres could attract many pitchers to PETCO despite the modifications, the price tag would be much higher in most cases without the ace potential. A change of scenery can help many players, and a pitcher-friendly PETCO Park can help a struggling pitcher regain his value. PETCO Park and Jimenez’ knowledge of the National League West could do wonders for him and the Padres.