You can forget any talk about Ubaldo Jimenez returning to Cleveland, no matter what GM Chris Antonetti said yesterday. Of course they want to talk to him about a long term deal. Doesn’t mean it is going to happen. I am sure that Ubaldo’s agents will give the Indians brass a courtesy meeting, but he priced his way right out of town with his superb performance after the All-Star break. As I have said for six plus weeks – the Edwin Jackson/Cubs four-year, $52 million contract from last winter should be the absolute starting point for any negotiations for Jimenez and any team he talks to. That being the case, it is obvious we have seen the last of Ubaldo Jimenez in an Indians uniform.
With the Ubaldo era all but over here, we can now close the book on the infamous trade that was panned initially by so many – yours truly included. Despite the fact that two of the two and a half years he was here were extremely uneven, Antonetti traded for Ubaldo to help pitch his team to the playoffs. In the end, that is exactly what he did, just a couple of seasons later than he was acquired to do so. You can now say with conviction that the Indians got the better of the deal with the Rockies that sent former first round picks Alex White and Drew Pomeranz to Colorado.
White made 27 starts (30 appearances) over two seasons in Denver. He posted an ERA of 6.30, a 1.70 WHIP, had only 88 K’s in 130.1 innings pitched, and gave up 25 homers. The former UNC standout was dealt last December to Houston as a part of a package for reliever Wilton Lopez. White missed all of 2013 after blowing out his elbow, requiring Tommy John surgery.
Pomeranz hasn’t fared much better and has still yet to assert himself as a member of the Rockies rotation. He made 22 starts in 2012 and went 2-9 with a 4.93 ERA/1.47 WHIP/83 K/46 BB in 96.2 IP. He started 2013 in AAA and made only four starts during the season with four other relief appearances in the bigs. Drew regressed in his 21.2 innings of work, walking 19 and striking out 19 while putting up a 6.23 ERA and a 2..03 WHIP.
While the Indians offered Jimenez a $14.1 million qualifying deal which he will more than likely decline, they did not extend the same deal to lefty Scott Kazmir. Jacob talked about this over the weekend, but Antonetti and his staff had a tough decision to make. They know they need starting pitching depth and are now faced with losing two of their top five starters from a year ago. There is a much better shot of Kazmir re-signing here on a multi-year deal, but it only takes one team to fall in love with Kaz and overpay him.
The pros of bringing him back: He is still just 29 years old and regained his hard throwing form last year. In addition, as the great Steve Kinsella pointed out to me yesterday, Kazmir really learned “how to pitch” last year. This was a guy who saw the bottom and reinvented himself after essentially pitching just one big league season since 2009 and spending 2012 pitching in the Independent League. 2013 may have been a jump off point for Kazmir.
The cons of bringing him back: Kazmir is still a risk. Just as easily as last season could be the beginning of a return to prominence for him, it could also have been a one-year fluke. The 158 innings he pitched in 2013 were his most since 2010 (150). Kazmir also has pitched over 200 innings just once in his career, 2007. Lastly, it only takes one team to give him a three-year deal, which I don’t think the Indians are willing to do.
In the end, I believe the market for Kazmir will be around two years and $25 million. That should be something the Indians could handle. But the real question is would Antonetti bring him back at that price or let him walk and hope to find someone who can do what Kazmir did last year on a less expensive or a one year deal?
An interesting name surfaced yesterday; Atlanta free agent Tim Hudson. According to reports, Hudson had “a lengthy conversation” with Tribe manager Terry Francona a few days ago about possibly joining the Indians as that middle of the rotation, veteran stabilizer. He is 38 years old and coming off of a broken ankle which ended his season prematurely. Hudson had been pitching well and has been solid for 15 years. In only two of his 15 seasons has he posted an ERA over four, one of them was in 2000 when he went 20-6 in Oakland and finished second for AL Cy Young. He isn’t a hard thrower at this point in his career; Hudson is more of a “pitcher.”
I’m not sure if Hudson coming here is realistic.He has loved his nine years in Atlanta and despite not receivng a qualifying offer from the Braves, they are said to want him back. Hudson was born in Georgia, grew up in Alabama, and went to college at Auburn. That is Braves country. With that said, maybe Hudson wants a new challenge. He will have no shortage of suitors. The Royals are said to be aggressive in their pursuit of the veteran starter as well. If this turns into a bidding war, I just don’t see the Tribe winning out.
As the days and months go by there will be a ton of speculation regarding the Indians and starting pitchers. This is just the beginning.