4. Ubaldo Jimenez will not finish the season on the Orioles’ roster.
The Orioles knew they were taking a gamble when they signed the enigmatic Ubaldo Jimenez to a four-year $50 million contract prior to the 2014 season. His first season in Baltimore was a massive disappointment, as the tall right-hander pitched to a 6-9 record, a 4.81 ERA and an ugly 5.5 BB/9.
Control had never exactly been Ubaldo’s thing, but his wildness was masked by his velocity. Now, with a fastball that is barely cracking 90, his inability to throw strikes is magnified. Never a picture of textbook mechanics, Jimenez has been working this spring to tighten up his delivery, but the results have not been pretty.
In his first four spring starts, Jimenez has an 8.74 ERA. For a team with aspirations of winning a second consecutive AL East crown, that will not cut it and Ubaldo will get left out of the rotation. With Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey waiting in the wings, Kevin Gausman ready for the next step and Miguel Gonzalez not going anywhere, Jimenez is the odd man out, and will be so for the remaining years on his contract. Even if Wei-Yin Chen and Bud Norris walk at the end of the season, the Orioles rotation may still not have room for Jimenez.
I expect the Orioles to do everything in their power to try to unload this albatross of a contract. If they are willing to eat a large portion of his salary, or can find a trade partner with an equally bad contract, the Orioles should be able to make a deal. Could the Phillies and Orioles make a Jimenez for Ryan Howard swap and meet in the middle on the contracts? That seems plausible to me, but I don’t get paid to make personnel decisions.