Earlier today the Orioles had announced their deal with Korean pitcher Suk-Min Yoon, and later today comes this news. The Orioles had been catching quite a bit of flak from the fans for being bystanders for the most part this off season. Fans seemed upset that the team allowed closer Jim Johnson to walk in a trade for almost no return. Opinions changed when the deal with Grant Balfour seemed all but done, but the deal ultimately fell through due to a failed physical and once again the O’s were met with fan disdain.
Jimenez is arguably one of the best remaining free agent pitchers on the market. It took a 4 year deal worth around $50 million to bring him to Baltimore. This is news in another way since it is the first time in possibly two decades the Orioles signed a pitcher to a contract longer than 3 years. The Orioles really seemed to be more interested in Arroyo and Burnett, possibly because the team thought they could sign them to shorter term deals.
Jimenez should help bolster a team that has really struggled in the starting pitching department. He is probably best known for his 2010 season in Colorado when he posted a 19-8 record with a 2.88 ERA and threw the first no-hitter in Rockies history. His success didn’t exactly follow as the following season his record dropped to 10-13 and his ERA jumped to 4.68 while being traded to the Cleveland Indians. His first full season in Cleveland was even worse as his record deteriorated to 9-17 and his era jumped up to 5.40. Last season though he seemed to regain form and went 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA and those strike out numbers were once again on the rise.
During his 2010 campaign, Jimenez was known to be if not the hardest throwing starting pitcher, he wasn’t very far removed from it. His fastball sat an an average of over 96MPH and in his no-hitter it was reported to reach over 100MPH several times, including hitting 101MPH. Recently though his velocity has dipped to an average of 94MPH, which is still very good, but also causes a bit of concern.
At 30 years old, as long as he is healthy, Jimenez could be an immense help to bolstering a rotation that already saw the emergence of Chris Tillman, the steady performances of Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez, and then seemed to be floundering to find those last two arms. Up until today, Duquette seemed to be stockpiling low risk, journeymen type deals and seeking to find the cream of the crop to compete with some in house candidates who just haven’t locked down a rotation spot. The arrival of Yoon and Jimenez seem to have cemented the rotation now. This allows Matusz to remain in the bullpen where he seems to be most effective and also bolsters depth waiting in the wings just in case an injury occurs….and it always does with pitching.