We’ve got almost 2 months left before the regular season begins, yet spring training can provide us with a great deal of useful information about the teams competing in 2014. Many of them have already signed the important concepts and all they need to do is to fine tune their starting rotation, based on the results recorded in February and March. Seattle, Baltimore, Cleveland and Toronto are still fighting for one last player, as all of them contemplate the opportunity of signing Ubaldo Jimenez.
The starting pitcher is hardly an avatar of consistency, but over the last couple of years he greatly improved his performance and 2013 was simply impressive. He returned to form after forgettable pitching in 2011 and 2012 and as a result everyone expected him to find a team with ease without making too many compromises. Unfortunately for Jimenez things took a turn for the worse and the competition is incredible these days, with pitchers such as Matt Garza and Ervin Santana being in the spotlight.
Not many teams are willing to surrender their draft picks and as a result Jimenez is still looking for a club to call home in 2014. Seattle is at the top of the list for the simple reason that the West Coast club spent a lot of money on players during season break to strengthen its rotation. Robinson Cano, Corey Hart, Logan Morrison and Fernando Rodney have all joined the Mariners but only time will tell whether they will continue the spending frenzy with this starting pitcher.
Baltimore Orioles are hardly a team with high expectations and over the last decade they rarely factored in the race for a playoff spot. It is incredibly difficult for them to compete with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, but in 2014 they seem to be willing to spend a bit more. They’ve purchased a couple of players that should improve their offensive performance, but they struggle heavily in 2013 with their starting pitchers and this is a section that needs to be strengthened.
Cleveland Indians are not credited with a great chance of signing Jimenez, even though they would definitely need his services. They’ve traded plenty of players over the last couple of months, with important ones leaving the club only to be replaced by some with tremendous potential. Overall, it looks like they only barely improved their team and with their current roster they have only theoretical chances of making the playoffs. As a result, spending a lot of money just to have Ubaldo in their courtyard is unlikely, as they simply can’t afford this kind of investment.
Toronto has the best chance of becoming Jimenez’s new home, as they are in dire need of starting pitchers, with only Dickey and Buehrle being truly reliable right now. They’re also willing to give up the draft pick, but they have their eyes locked on Ervin Santana while Jimenez represents the alternative. A decision needs to be made soon and if Santana signs with a different team, the Blue Jays will become the overwhelming favorites to acquire Ubaldo.