Ubaldo Jimenez - 2014 Fantasy Baseball Impact
In the days since Spring Training started some big-name pitchers have come off the market. First Bronson Arroyo signed with Arizona, then AJ Burnett with Philadelphia. Now, perhaps the starter with the biggest upside has found a home, as Ubaldo Jimenez signed a 4-year $48 Million deal with the Baltimore Orioles. In the ever-so-crowded AL East, even the smallest deal can make or break the O’s chance at contending for 2014 and beyond. Led by Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Manny Machado and Matt Wieters, Baltimore is solid on the offensive side; however, the pitching, especially the starting staff, is thin and weak to say the least. With no clear ace, the 30-year-old Jimenez brings to Baltimore his #1 type stuff. However, with that success, Jimenez has also gone through times with great inconsistency. This leads to questions as to which version the O’s have locked up until 2018.
First, the positives. If you can say one thing about Jimenez, he is an innings eater. Throughout his 8-year-career he averages 34 starts and 205 innings per year. While he will likely never come close to his amazing first half of 2010 with the Colorado Rockies, Jimenez has done a great job of at least staying healthy and taking the ball when it is his turn. It is also fair to say that his 2013 season with the Cleveland Indians was his best year since that remarkable run, as he stayed consistent all season and ended the year with a 13-9 record, a 3.30 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP.
One negative for Jimenez with Baltimore is the division in which he will be pitching. The AL East looks to be most competitive in 2014 with the Yankees spending money out the wazoo, Toronto looking to finally live up to the hype from last year, Tampa always on the verge on breaking away with their young talent and Boston looking to repeat as World Champions. That will lead to an increase in HR allowed, a decrease in wins, as well as a higher ERA and WHIP. Also not good for Jimenez’s future stats is where he'll be playing. The Rogers Centre in Toronto, Yankee Stadium and Camden Yards, the latter being his new home, were all in the Top 10 in runs scored and homeruns hit in 2013. Throw in the tall but close-in Monster at Fenway, and this is a huge red flag for fantasy managers looking at Jimenez. While it's noble to consider Baltimore a contender in the AL East, one pitcher is not going to change that. It will be an uphill battle for the O’s, and Jimenez, to compete.
Jimenez’s current Yahoo Fantasy rank is 254 and comes in as the 62th ranked SP, meaning that he is projected in the 20th-22th round in a 12 team format. That is a bit low in my book as to where he should be drafted. His upside is high, even with the risk we mentioned. If you scoop him up a few rounds earlier than that, consider it a nice upside pick for the bottom end of your rotation and pray Jimenez can keep his 2014 season together.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned as we analyze all the big FA signings and how they impact 2014 fantasy baseball. Make sure to follow Justin on Twitter @JustBerglund and @Rotoballer for all the latest fantasy baseball news and updates.