Ubaldo Jimenez, the man who gave us two years of trash and four months of treasure appears to be on the market once again, at least according to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.
And while waiting for any updates surrounding Cleveland Indians ace Corey Kluber winning the 2014 Cy Young, and fending off the notion that I’m supposed to care about Kevin Love’s contract situation, this tweet came through my timeline early Wednesday morning—and I almost fell out of my chair when I saw it:
There’s interest in Ubaldo, who’s available. return to Cleveland. Would make sense. http://t.co/QePsykgNiF
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) November 12, 2014
Then I thought about this scene for the horrific mistake that was “The Godfather III.”
Cleveland Indians GM Chris Antonetti never made any serious overtures towards re-signing Jimenez after he helped pitch the Indians to a Wild Card spot in 2013. Kid Chris knew he was a free agent to be and with the way he pitched down the stretch, offering him the then-$14.1 million Qualifying Offer was a no-brainer. The Tribe brass also knew he wouldn’t take it, therefore locking in an extra first-round draft pick. With a guy like Edwin Jackson getting Four years and $52 million on the open market a year before, Ubaldo was smart enough to know someone would pay him, one way or another. It just wasn’t going to be the Indians.
Without the watchful eye of Mickey Callaway, who helped re-invent him into a top level starter, Ubaldo floundered in Baltimore after signing a four-year, $50 million contract. The bandbox known as Oriole Park at Camden Yards was not a good place for him. Command issues returned and his confidence was shaken as the Orioles removed him from their rotation and eventually left him off of their playoff roster. Essentially 2014 Ubaldo was 2011-12 Cleveland Ubaldo; a guy that would have trouble staying on as a fifth starter in the American League.
Now Baltimore wants to move him.
Heyman suggests that the Indians “make sense” as a landing spot for Jimenez. While you may say to yourself “hey, the Tribe has their five starters already locked in,” you can never have enough starting pitching. As nails as T.J. House was over his last nine starts, his future is still unknown. What happens if someone goes down to injury? The next men up are still Zach McAllister and Josh Tomlin. Z Mac may find himself in the pen and turn himself into a Wade Davis type — a failed starter who gained velocity and a home in the late innings. Tomlin I think we have seen the best of him already. You need more of a pipeline that what the Wahoos currently have.
You are probably also thinking to yourself “why in the heck would we ever want to bring Jimenez back here, especially when his contract still has three years and $37.5 million left on his deal?” I have three words for you: Mickey Freaking Callaway. A reunion with the guy who assisted him and he credits for helping resurrect his career (and subsequently getting him PAID) could be a great thing for both Jimenez and for the Indians. Then again, Ubaldo’s great stretch drive may just be a flash of brilliance. With that said, if he is somewhere in the middle of the two, he could be an asset.
Now the cost is what is going to be up for a big time debate. I’m sure if the Indians wanted him now and didn’t care about the money, they could take on Ubaldo for next to nothing. I am sure the Orioles would love to rid themselves of that bad deal. Here is another interesting thought: right now, Baltimore GM Dan Duquette is sitting and waiting on OF/DH Nelson Cruz to make up his mind on a reported three-year contract that is said to be in his hand. Should Cruz balk and wind up somewhere else, would he consider taking back Nick Swisher for Ubaldo? The money is relatively close — Ubaldo is owed $37.5 over the next three years while Swish is still owed $30 million over two seasons — and the Orioles could have a hole in their lineup. Chris Davis will be returning from suspension but Cruz bumped between DH and the outfield. Swish could find a rebirth in the hitters haven at Camden Yards if he can stay healthy while DH’ing and playing some first base. It is not that crazy of a thought.
Just putting it out there. The truth is I really don’t know how I would feel about a return of Ubaldo Jimenez to Cleveland. The guy frustrated me to no end during his time here, but he more than made up for it as the ace of the staff in 2013. The Callaway/Jimenez re-marriage though could be next level stuff if they could find that magic again.