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Ubaldo Jimenez: What Kind of Contract Does He Deserve?

Ubaldo Jimenez deserves a nice raise. But how much of a raise is the real question.
Ubaldo Jimenez deserves a nice raise. But how much of a raise is the real question.John Gress/Getty Images
Ben BerkonContributor IJanuary 13, 2014

It's a rather commonplace for players—in particular, pitchers—to cash in on productive seasons. For instance, Scott Kazmir and Scott Feldman both landed multi-year contracts this offseason that few could have predicted before their respective 2013 seasons.

That said, remaining free-agent Ubaldo Jimenez has yet to receive the love he deserves.

Jimenez enjoyed his finest combined surface and peripheral campaign since 2010, posting a 3.30 ERA (versus a 3.43 FIP), 1.33 WHIP and 2.43-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio over 182.2 innings.

But it was really the right-hander’s second half that was acutely impressive. Jimenez tossed a 1.82 ERA (versus a 2.17 FIP), 1.14 WHIP and 3.70-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio after the All-Star break.

Likely due to his dominant second half, Jimenez is expecting a multi-year contract worth $14 million annually, according to Fox Sport's Ken Rosenthal.

At that rate—and assuming Jimenez could garner a multi-year deal—the to be 30-year-old would eclipse Ricky Nolasco’s new annual earnings of $12.25 million. Even though Jimenez collected a 3.2 fWAR in 2013, is the pitcher actually worth his lofty asking price?

Per Steamer, Jimenez is projected to post a 2.5 WAR in 2014. Of the 16 free-agent starting pitchers signed this offseason, only seven are projected to post a 2.0-plus WAR next season.

Name

Team

Yrs

Total $

$ / Yr.

‘14 Steamer WAR Proj.

Hiroki Kuroda

New York Yankees

1

$16,000,000.00

$16,000,000.00

3.4

Scott Kazmir

Oakland Athletics

2

$22,000,000.00

$11,000,000.00

2.6

Ricky Nolasco

Minnesota Twins

4

$49,000,000.00

$12,250,000.00

2.4

Dan Haren

Los Angeles Dodgers

1

$10,000,000.00

$10,000,000.00

2.2

Josh Johnson

San Diego Padres

1

$8,000,000.00

$8,000,000.00

2.1

Scott Feldman

Houston Astros

3

$30,000,000.00

$10,000,000.00

2.1

Bartolo Colon

New York Mets

2

$20,000,000.00

$10,000,000.00

2.0

The bad news for Jimenez, however, is that the above pitchers only garnered an average two-year, $22.1 million contract amongst the seven of them.

Nolasco poses as the closest comparison to Jimenez, as Steamer projects that the right-hander will post a 2.6 WAR. Nolasco’s career, more or less, mirrors Jimenez’s, too.

Name

Career IP

Career GS

Career ERA

Career FIP

Career fWAR

Ricky Nolasco

1312.2

212

4.37

3.76

20.0

Ubaldo Jimenez

1275.2

211

3.92

3.78

23.6

Since Jimenez rejected the Cleveland Indians’ qualifying offer, the pitcher is already at a bigger disadvantage than fellow starter free agents like Matt Garza and Bronson Arroyo. But if a prospective team bites the draft-pick bullet to sign Jimenez, they shouldn’t budge higher than $12.5 million per season for the pitcher's services. 

 

All statistics, including Steamer, sourced from FanGraphs.com.

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