Lincecum’s Deal Means Bye Bye to Ubaldo

It was reported that the Indians are pondering whether or not to make a qualifying offer of approximately $14.1 million to potential free agent right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez.

Here’s hoping that GM Chris Antonetti decides to make the offer.

We don’t have any illusions of keeping Jimenez for the 2014 season.  The Giants monstrous deal for Tim Lincecum made it likely that some team will give the American League’s pitcher of the month for September a very rich man. 

Still, the Tribe should make the qualifying offer because if Jimenez refuses, which is a most likely scenario, then Cleveland will get an additional first round pick in next year’s amateur draft.

And even if Ubaldo accepts, it’s a one-year contract and there is no such thing as a bad one-year deal.  Why?  Because the franchise isn’t hamstrung by an agreement that keeps going on and on (see Hafner, Travis).

The Indians and Jimenez have a mutual option for 2014, which the Tribe will most definitely pick up and Jimenez most certainly will turn down seeing the cash that Lincecum received considering he hasn’t been a dominant hurler since 2011.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner went 10-14 with a 4.37 ERA with San Francisco in 2013, and that was the better of last two years.  He had an ERA over 5.00 in 2012 (5.18). 

Yet he received $35 million for the next two years.

You have to believe that Jimenez’ agent will use that contract as a starting point in any negotiation, and the Indians won’t pay that, nor should they give that much cash to a pitcher who pitched well a half season for a team he played two and a half years for.

Still, it’s a win-win situation to offer the righty the qualifying offer.  If he accepts, the Tribe gets a guy who looks like he may have figured out his problems in the last two months of ’13. 

And if he reverts back to the guy who pitched for Cleveland in 2012, the Indians can let him walk away afterwards. 

If he declines the offer, then Antonetti gets another first round pick in the draft to help stock up the farm system. 

The worse that may happen is you either blow the pick or Jimenez stays in a Tribe uniform for 2014 and pitches like he has most of his time here. 

 And really, with Lincecum’s outrageous deal, why would Ubaldo’s agent take the qualifying offer?

In the Indians’ shoes, they can’t sign players over 30 years old or pitchers to long-term pricey contracts.  While Lincecum’s deal is only for two years, the guess here is Jimenez will be seeking and will probably get a four or five year agreement. 

What this means is Antonetti will have to get creative to find the starting pitcher he would like to get to complete the rotation. 

They will make a legitimate offer to Scott Kazmir, but we wouldn’t go over two years because of the southpaw’s history. 

So, it may lead to a trade for an established pitcher already under contract.  There have been rumors the Tribe is interested in Tampa’s David Price, which would be an ideal pick up.

Remember, Justin Masterson is a free agent after the 2014 season, while Price cannot be one until after the following season. 

Could Antonetti be thinking of a one season pairing of Masterson and Price with Danny Salazar as the ace in waiting? 

That’s how mid market teams have to operate, but they need a strong farm system to do it.

Getting a draft pick out of the Ubaldo Jimenez situation helps in that regard too.

MW

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