With off-season transactions beginning to pick up, we evaluate the available free agents and try to find a player that could fill a need for the 2014 season.
Today, we take a look at a starting pitcher coming off his best season in three years that could fill out the back end of the rotation:
Jimenez is a 29-year-old that spent last season with the Cleveland Indians. In his career, the right-hander is 82-75 with a 3.92 ERA and 1,172 strikeouts in 211 starts over eight seasons.
With the Indians, Jimenez had his first winning season since 2010, finishing 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA and 194 strikeouts in 32 starts. The right-hander helped the Indians claim a Wild Card spot and reach the postseason.
Jimenez is still fairly young at 29 years old and is coming off a strong season in the American League. He had 194 strikeouts in 182.2 innings, averaging 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings. The eight-year veteran can still miss bats at a high rate and that usually bodes well for pitchers moving on. If he can continue his strong pitching, the Dodgers could use him in the fourth or fifth spot of the rotation.
The right-hander has been in the NL West before and had some of his best seasons as a member of the Colorado Rockies. A move back to the division and pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium would help Jimenez in remaining a successful starting pitcher. He would slot in well in behind the Dodgers’ three starters, especially if the Dodgers can’t acquire Masahiro Tanaka.
Despite his struggles in past seasons, Jimenez has remained a durable starting pitcher, having started at least 30 games in the past six seasons. He’s thrown at least 175 innings in those six seasons and has won at least 10 games in five of those six seasons. The right-hander will go out every fifth day and give his team a chance to win.
Before last season, Jimenez went 19-30 with a 5.06 ERA in 63 starts in 2011-2012. He went from one of the top young pitchers in baseball to an afterthought that was traded to the Indians. The 29-year-old struggled as his strikeout rate went down. Although he recovered last season, he can easily revert back to his struggling ways.
Jimenez received a qualifying offer from the Indians, meaning that any team that signs him will give up a first-round draft pick. The Dodgers may not be desperate enough for starting pitching to warrant a lost draft pick, especially for a starting pitcher with one good season in the last three. With Ervin Santana and Matt Garza also available without draft pick compensation, Jimenez will likely have to wait for a suitor.
In his career, Jimenez has been in the postseason twice and is 0-2 with a 3.54 ERA in five starts. He made three starts in the Rockies’ 2007 World Series run, losing a game in the Fall Classic. Jimenez struggled in 2009 against the Philadelphia Phillies, finishing with a 5.25 ERA in two starts. If the Dodgers sign Jimenez, he may be expected to make a postseason start and his track record isn’t that strong.
Because of the draft pick compensation, Jimenez will likely receive less money than other free agent starting pitchers such as Santana, Garza and Ricky Nolasco. The right-hander turned down $14.1 million from the Indians, but may not receive that much on the open market. Also, his track record isn’t as strong as the other starters, making him less likely to receiver a long-term deal.
Jimenez can expect a two or three year deal worth about $10-14 million per year. He could also receive a similar deal to left-hander Jason Vargas (4-year, $32 million with the Kansas City Royals).
Chances Dodgers Sign Him: 10%
The looming draft pick compensation significantly dwindles the chances that the Dodgers sign the 29-year-old. There are better free agents on the market that wouldn’t cost the Dodgers a first-rounder; however, if the Dodgers can’t sign one of the other pitchers and not sign Tanaka, they may be left with Jimenez.
Look for the Dodgers to look elsewhere for rotation help and Jimenez may re-sign with the Indians in a multi-year deal.
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