It's official. Ubaldo Jimenez is a member of the Baltimore Orioles. The team formally announced the signing on Wednesday afternoon. Signing Jimenez meant that, with a full 40-man roster, someone would have to be sent packing to make room. That someone was pitcher Liam Hendriks, who should not be missed, unless you really want the Orioles to have an Australian guy.
The Jimenez contract is for four years and $50 million, an average annual value of $12.5 million. This represents the longest and the largest contract given by the Orioles to a free agent pitcher.
You can always tell what the Orioles would like for you to be excited about by what they focus on in the press release announcing a move. There's no exception here, with the Orioles digging deep into the well of stats that they have never previously acknowledged.
Among pitchers who have thrown 1,000 innings since 2008, Jimenez ranks: 6th with a 0.7 HR/9, tied for 7th with 195 starts, and 8th with a 1.57 GB/FB ratio, 61.1 ground ball percentage, and 8.35 K/9. He is one of ten pitchers to have made at least 31 starts per season.
I'm not sure by what measure the Orioles think Jimenez has a 61.1 ground ball percentage since 2008, because his Fangraphs page indicates his best single season was 54.4% and he hasn't topped 50% since 2009, but let's not get in their way; they're rolling. In any case, the 43.9% ground balls he got in 2013 should play well with the Orioles infield.
Some other things to be excited about in the realm of cherry-picked numbers, which are probably right, include Jimenez placing in the top ten in the American League in 2013 in K/9 (4th, 9.56), slugging percentage against (8th, .367), and strikeouts (9th, 194). The O's haven't had a pitcher with that many strikeouts since Erik Bedard struck out 221 in 2007. He was also the American League Pitcher of the Month in September, but really, who cares.
Jimenez will wear uniform #31 in Baltimore and will be introduced at a press conference on Thursday at 9:30am. The conference will be carried live on MASN.