Orbiting Cleveland: Ubaldo Jimenez or Justin Masterson?
The Indians need to put their resources toward retaining Jimenez or Masterson
Sometimes there just is no right answer.
Bahamas vs. Bermuda
Mustang vs. Camaro
Manning vs. Brady
Chances are that you could choose either of the options above, and you would still end up being a happy guy or gal.
Yet, there are times where we're forced to make tough decisions like this, and it appears as if the Cleveland Indians might now find themselves in this precarious position.
Yep, it may be as black and white as that.
The reality is that this could be a conversation that Indians President Mark Shapiro, General Manager Chris Antonetti and Manager Terry Francona may be having right now.
Of course, like the comparisons above, there may not be a right answer when choosing either Masterson or Jimenez, but it might be necessary. At least two stories that came out this week seem to point to that.
On Monday, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that the Indians and Masterson had ceased discussions on a multi-year deal. Instead, the Indians and Masterson's agent, Randy Rowley, will work toward a one-year deal with or without the arbitration process.
This followed the news that CBS Sports' Jon Heyman provided Monday on the MLB Network where he noted that Jimenez may now be willing to drop his salary demands and could land in the three-year, $39 million range.
Interesting developments indeed.
From the beginning of the offseason, the Indians' front office made it clear that in a perfect world, they would retain Jimenez and work out a multi-year extension with Masterson.
Yet we all know we do not live in a perfect world.
The reality is that it was initially believed that Jimenez could be looking at over $70 million worth of guaranteed money, and there was simply no way the Indians were going to go that high in an offer.
However, the recent news from Heyman could change that. While members of this Indians' front office have never been known to give significant contracts to starting pitchers over the age of 30, the falling price tag on Jimenez could change things.
The one time this did occur was back in April 2007 when the Tribe inked Jake Westbrook to a three-year, $33 million contract extension. Westbrook had just turned 30 in September of the previous year, so it did appear as if he would be entering the prime of his career. Also, the signing seemed to make sense as Westbrook was fresh off of a 15-10 season where he posted a 4.17 ERA in 211 1/3 innings of work.
Yet, as we know, that signing ultimately backfired as the Indians fell out of contention during Westbrook's tenure, and the right-hander also struggled with injuries and eventually underwent Tommy John surgery.
However, it's somewhat hard to believe that the Indians might have the chance to sign Jimenez, a pitcher who clearly has a much higher ceiling than Westbrook, for just $6 million more than the deal Westbrook signed in 2007.
It seems like a no-brainer, right?
So then, why is the contract not already signed, sealed and delivered?
There can really only one answer to that question — Masterson.
It's been discussed time and time again, but the reality is that the Indians will always be financially limited in the decisions that they make.
Knowing that, it probably would be very difficult for the Indians to make a long-term financial commitment to both Jimenez and Masterson. While the team might be able to re-sign Jimenez and retain Masterson for next season, a three-year, $39 million contract to Jimenez probably ensures that Masterson will not be in Cleveland past the 2014 season.
Similarly, if the Indians somehow were able to work out an extension with Masterson now, that would then mean that they likely would be unable to re-sign Jimenez.
So what exactly is the team to do?
There is no clearcut answer here, and this could really go a lot of different ways. One might argue that the Indians should put their resources into signing Jimenez right now.
After all, extension talks with Masterson have stalled, and that can't be a good thing. Plus if Masterson does have a good season, then some believe he could see in the neighborhood of $75-$100 million in guaranteed money. If that's the case, the Indians simply will have no chance at re-signing him.
Unfortunately, it's not so easy though. Remember that many people speculated that Jimenez would see over $70 million this offseason, and that has not been the case so far. Let's say Masterson goes out and has a season where he posts an ERA and FIP in the neighborhood of 3.75-4.00. Who knows, perhaps he could then be had at a similar price point to the three-year, $39 million that is currently being speculated for Jimenez. No one can ever predict exactly how the market is going to develop, and this offseason is proof of that.
So, essentially the Indians could re-sign Jimenez now and likely lose Masterson to free agency after 2014, or they could continue to negotiate with Masterson now and hold onto hope that they re-sign him after the season if they're unable to reach a deal.
The reality is that the Indians have to make a choice because both players are not going to be in the fold for the long term.
And, you see, that's where things get difficult. Everyone seems to have their choice as to who is the better candidate to re-sign, but the truth is that both have their flaws and their strengths. In fact, statistically, both players are far more similar than many fans may realize.
The table below outlines the season statistics for both Jimenez and Masterson since the 2010 season:
Now, here's where things get really difficult. It's clear there's a lot to like about both players, so how does one go about choosing one over the other?
Statistically, 2013 was a career year for both Jimenez and Masterson. Both players saw their K/9 rates jump by more than two strikeouts per nine innings, and their FIPS and xFIPS were amongst the best of their careers.
Also, it's interesting to note that it's appearing as if 2012 may have actually been an outlier for both Jimenez and Masterson. While Jimenez had a poor ERA in 2011, his FIP and xFIP were much more in line with his career norms.
Believe it or not, a case can be made that both players have been relatively consistent with the exception of the 2012 season.
In fact, check out the FIP progression of both players in the graph below:
In terms of FIP, Jimenez has actually outperformed Masterson for much of their careers. The big outlier for Jimenez is his 28-year-old season, which came in 2012. This graph might suggest that Jimenez has the higher ceiling than Masterson, but it also shows that Masterson is more consistent as even his career-high FIP of 4.16 in 2012 was still not all that bad.
So, unfortunately, we are no closer to an answer in regard to what the Indians will do. So here are the conclusions we can make:
- Jimenez may have the higher ceiling than the two, but he also has the worst season on record. Furthermore, that season came just two years ago, so that may be a reasonable concern.
- Both players had career years in terms of strikeouts, but only one player did it with diminishing velocity. Masterson averaged 93.1 miles per hour on his fastball in 2013 compared to 92.4 miles per hour in 2010. In comparison, Jimenez averaged 92.1 miles per hour on his fastball in 2013, which is down from 95.8 miles per hour in 2010. Masterson is now approaching 30 and loss of velocity is inevitable, so it will be interesting to see if he'll be able to maintain the strong K/9 rate as Jimenez has. It is an extremely good sign that Jimenez was able to post such a strong K/9 rate (second behind only Yu Darvish in the American League) even though his fastball was nearly four miles per hour slower than it was in 2010.
- Both Masterson and Jimenez practically never get hurt, and they are essentially locks to give a team anywhere between 180 to 220 innings each season.
- Essentially, the tradeoff with Jimenez and Masterson is strikeouts and length. Masterson will probably give his team more length, but Jimenez is going to generate more strikeouts.
Even with these things pointed out, there is still no clear answer.
Personally, I believe the team should focus on re-signing Jimenez as a three-year, $39 million deal is very reasonable especially for a guy who has ace potential. It appears that teams are scared off by his poor 2012 season, but the data shows that that really is more of an outlier than anything else.
Plus, his 2013 breakout seems to show that Jimenez could be back on his way toward consistent Major League success.
The Indians ultimately will have to make the call on what road they want to go down. They then need to put all of their resources into ensuring that the player they choose to pursue will remain in the fold for the foreseeable future.
Is it Jimenez?
Or is it Masterson?
Regardless, the fact is that the team needs to make this choice. Choosing no one is not an option.
It could be argued that the Indians may be able to survive the next few seasons without one of either Masterson and Jimenez, but it's hard to believe they can survive without both.
Steve can be reached via email at email@example.com.
I can understand the concerns about Tomlin, but I think the similarities in their pitching abilities and the fact that Arroyo will probably cost somewhere between 6-10M/year for 2-3 years as compared to Tomlin making less than $1M, I think the results would be similar enough to where it wouldn't be the best allocation of resources. I think Arroyo won't be anymore than a 5 starter in the AL nowadays- he was only a 3-4 starter in his prime with Boston, and that was 10+ years ago! I believe. Tomlin could likely do just as well in that five hole if needed at a much cheaper cost, while putting that money toward Jimenez or maybe Burnett.
Also, it's been announced that the Dodgers, D'Bscks, and Orioles are the finalists for Arroyo, so it seems likely he's not coming here. May boost the chances for Jimenez to return or Burnett to come here, unless the Indians are very confident of filling that hole (really two holes if you consider Kazmir's departure) internally. We will see.
Tomlin had a good 2011...but his ERA in the first two months was 2.74....from June 1st on (nearly 100 innings) it was 5.23. Then in 2012 it was over 6. I don't trust a guy that had two good months and has been terrible ever since. Was it all the elbow? Or did the league just figure him out? Like having him around in AAA as a depth option, but Arroyo has had an ERA under 4.00 in four of the past five seasons, something Tomlin has never done. I realize Arroyo has been in the NL, but again, pitching at GABP as a flyball pitcher prone to the HR probably offsets the difference some.
As far as who limits the HRs to solos more...I'm sure you could look and find the numbers, but considering Arroyo has been able to keep the ERA under 4 (outside of 2011 when his HR rate spiked to over 2 per nine innings), I'd say even if he struggles limiting the HRs to solos, he does a good job limiting runs overall.
You likely have the next Arroyo as he is right now, if not a bit better, in Josh Tomlin. They both throw about the same velocity, they both have impeccable control, and they both give up a fair number of HRs, though I 'm pretty sure Tomlin has done a good job of keeping the HRs to solo shots, whereas I don't think Arroyo has been as good of that as of late.
If we didn't have Tomlin, the argument to add Arroyo might be stronger, but you likely could plug Tomlin into the rotation, get similar to better production, and it would cost much less, as Arroyo probably gets $8-10M minimum per season, whereas Tomlin is asking for $975,000 in arbitration, I think.
I'm not convinced Arroyo would outdo Tomlin, and certainly not enough to justify that increase. He might throw 200+ innings but if he can keep his ERA between 4.50-5.00, is that money well-spent? It's quite possible at his age with his declining stuff that he'd have a 5+ ERA in the AL- I can't see that being money well-spent; I'd rather spend that on Jimenez, a frontline starter by most accounts, compared to Arroyo, who is nothing more than a backend guy nowadays, especially when you have a comparable pitcher in Tomlin already on the roster.
It seems many don't want to see Tomlin in the rotation, but if you put Arroyo in the rotation, aren't you just putting a more seasoned Tomlin with possibly less ability to handle the AL nowadays, at a higher cost, in the rotation? I really don't think that's the most cost-effective way to use the allegedly limited financial resources the Indians have left. They'd be much better off putting that money toward Jimenez in my opinion. If it's not him, I'd look at Burnett next; he still has a solid chance to be a 3, maybe a 2 in the AL, but Arroyo is no better than a 4, and probably, a 5 in the AL nowadays.
I'm torn on Arroyo personally. Is getting up there in age, but since 2004 he's thrown at least 200 innings in ever season but one....and he threw 199 in that season. Going from the NL to AL isn't the easiest but then again, Arroyo has been playing a GABP which is not an easy park to pitch in, especially if you're prone to the HR like Arroyo is.
There are no guarantees in sports...but Arroyo is probably as close as you can get to a guarantee of 200 innings and 30 starts. Wouldn't give him 3 years at his age but two seems reasonable. If I could get him for less than what Kazmir signed for...I think you have to at least consider it if you're Cleveland. Doesn't have the biggest upside, but a vet that can eat innings is a valuable commodity...one that can eat innings and still pitch well like Arroyo....I can understand his frustration at not getting any good offers. Is older, but only 1.5 years older than Capuano that many people want.
Also worth noting...Arroyo did pitch for 2 seasons with Francona in Boston. Granted was many years ago but still.
I do think Bourn can rebound and be worth the money he's making. I disagree though that dealing him leaves a big hole in the OF. Swisher easily could move back out there. Sure at this point he fits better at 1B, but the shoulder flared up when he was bouncing back and forth between the OF and 1B, plus wasn't slated to play there in spring training so how much work did he get? IF you went into the season knowing he was strictly playing the OF, then I think you see less issues. Also...if you dealt Bourn, I think you could still try Santana out there. If he looks fine at 3B, then he should be able to handle the OF. Braun, Cuddyer, Teahan, Blake, etc...we've seen plenty of guys go from 3B to the OF. Santana actually played more OF than 3B in the minors too.
And to me the issue with Bourn is that you're paying him to be a leadoff guy....but he really isn't your best option there anymore. Definitely don't think you deal him just to deal him...but if you feel that moving his money can make the team better in other areas, you have to consider it. May be best to wait til next winter and see how he performs though.
I think the reason it is so split this way is Jimenez pitched the clinching game that put the Indians into the one game playoff. Also with our #1 starter Masterson injured in September Jimenez did become the #1 starter for the Indians down the stretch.
I think if Jimenez is willing to take a one year contract around 13mil, the Indians should not hesitate to jump on that. They would be fools if they did not since that was the QO amount at the beginning of this FA season.
He's an aging, average starting pitcher. You can't win playoff series with guys like that, although he could win 12 games pitching against the White Sox, Twins, etc.
To win playoff series you need three dominant starters. Ubaldo is a dominant starter when his mechanics are right, and they were right last year after Callaway fixed them. If he stays with Callaway this year there's no reason to think he won't be the same pitcher. The Indians would be nuts to let him go just so they can get a sandwich pick between rounds 1 and 2. We've seen what those picks are worth.
It appears Masterson is unwilling to sign a long term deal that the Indians can afford, so he will get a one-year deal and be a free agent after this season. Unless he tanks this season, the Indians will not be able to afford him.
If Ubaldo's price drops into their range they would be crazy not to sign him to a three-year deal. If Ubaldo can maintain his 2013 level of performance, or even close, and if Salazar can emerge as a dominant starter, we're two-thirds of the way there. If Masterson can repeat his performance from last year, we're there in 2014 with three dominant starters.
The offense, which was 4th in runs last year, should be improved, especially if we get bounce-back years from Asdrubal, Bourn, and Swisher.
When you're a small market team like the Indians, you have to go for it when you have a chance, which is not often. If the market for Ubaldo drops into their price range, they have to strike while the iron is hot. Teams like the Indians never get to the World Series anymore without taking some risks.
- I said before, I don't believe the Indians can let both go for first-round draft picks. Take a look at Matthew's list of the first-round draft picks that have been selected and ask yourself if you really think the Indians are going to get much value out of those picks compared to having an ace at a time when the Indians are finally back in contention again after several years? I'm as much into building through the farm system as anyone (look at the old archives of LetsGoTribe.com under "indiansfan" and you'll see my old posts proving that view), but no one can confidently say that the Indians will make good, strong use out of those two picks. I believe the current regime was largely responsible for Chisenhall, and we know how many questions there are with him. They selected 2nd-rounder Dillon Howard, and he already looks more bust than boom. The Indians have a golden opportunity to bring back a player who was a key reason why the Indians made the postseason in 2013. Jimenez really pitched well outside of April, and his second half outdid Masterson's first half by a good margin (and not all against cupcakes either, as has been mentioned before). If the Indians let both get away for draft picks, it could really set the franchise back for a while.
-As for Arroyo, you already have him in Josh Tomlin, who probably could replicate or outdo Arroyo, at a much cheaper price. Arroyo is barely a 4-5 starter in the AL nowadays, giving up a ton of HRs (30+). I'd consider Burnett, though Jimenez is still my first option. But, I'd pass on Arroyo- you already have a cheaper, and potentially, better version of him.
Let's keep in mind some things about Jimenez:
- He pitched in the least-pitcher-friendly ballpark in Coors Field, yet still had strong H/IP, BB/IP, and K/IP in his years before his stellar first half of 2010.
-In fact, outside of 2012, which is the outlier, he's had a K/BB ratio of over 2.
-Masterson, by comparison has had two seasons with a K/BB rate of over 2 (2011 and 2013) as a starter, one as a reliever. He doesn't have the track record Jimenez does, and has been mentioned before, doesn't have the same ceiling. Jimenez's ceiling is a 1 at best, Masterson's a 2 at best.
- Is Jimenez the best teammate? No, but I'm willing to bet you could name some players who were worst teammates or bigger distractions than Jimenez in their careers: Albert Belle and John Rocker. Jose Mesa was known to be moody, as much or more so than Jimenez, and you heard much more about Mesa's moodiness in the media than Jimenez's. Heck, how did I forget about Milton Bradley, probably the worst of all the ones mentioned, and far worse than Jimenez.
When we had traded for him, I was very excited(though I feared we may have overpaid) because he was once the most feared pitcher in the NL....at least for a little while. It was so great to see him become a fearsome pitcher again last year.
I don't know if his experiences have taught him anything about humility, I don't know what's in his head, what effect his current negotiations and eventual contract will have on his attitude, or where he will even pitch. I DO know that when's he's got it going, he's an ACE and as tough to hit as any pitcher in the game.
Maybe he'll feel gratitude for whatever contract he signs, wherever he pitches. Life's not about who makes the most money. You'll get paid, Ubaldo. Just do a good job, be happy, and keep on smiling. :)
But. Masterson is way better for our club now and for the future but because we are small market and living in the TV money age we are having a conversation that is really about reassuring ourselves that we can live with the #$%^sandwich we will soon be eating.
Ubaldo has learned that his rep and his inconsistency are two hurdles no agent can overcome. He will not be cashing in with the big contract. Even in the most flush times for starting pitching.
Again, character matters. Nobody is willing to risk 10-30 million $$$ to see if this guy can handle a fish bowl like NY or LA let alone a real post season run. Thus he is a suspect b-list pitcher - sure he eats innings. But at what price when he eventually does his Diva routine?
Not even if he agrees to bitcoin and bannan's. So if you are serious about winning you don't want Ubaldo. Period.
What does that mean for Tribe fans?
There is no comparison between these two, and yet I have read over and over how people claim how similar they are. They just aren't.
Masterson is a guy YOU WANT in your clubhouse - and on the field - Ubaldo no. Ubaldo you put up with - but not if you want or expect to win anything.
You think the Dodgers wouldn't die to pencil in Masterson as their #3? What they can't afford it? Or the Angels. Or the Yankees? Texas?
Of all contending teams I can only think of two who won't much be interested in signing Masterson for Annie Sanchez money. St. Louis and Tampa. Because they are so good at developing their own pitching - he isn't a priority.
It's self-delusion driving this conversation. There is no way we can keep an arm we have developed when 80$ million is the starting point for a multi-year deal - and to cope with it - people are nit-picking an excellent young arm to death to whittle him down as comparable to a big trade mistake who has given one 2-3 month stretch of decent production.
Ubaldo before july-sept '13 was a disaster and the worst trade the Indians have made since Jon Garland! Even with both #1 picks sent going lame. That is the only reason people didn't want ShapAnt's heads, that and their ability to land Tito.
Otherwise - Ubaldo gets them fired. Heck, Ubaldo helped get his OLD MANAGER fired - even AFTER HE LEFT!
Masterson on the other hand stuggled with a team that imploded, had AA & AAA line-ups for a quarter of a season with a lame duck skipper filling it out like a zombie. Yet posters here refer to that as a backslide and some cautionary tale - not a view taken outside of Cleveland as serious.
Oh, and Ubaldo was even worse under the same conditions.
Signing Ubaldo for more than one year is worse than stupid. It is surrender. He has never been consistent and it is nothing more than desperate wishful thinking to believe he will.
#1 - Ubaldo Jimenez is very risky on a long-term deal. His mechanics are very unconventional (he can lose them easily) and he can turn into a terrible pitcher, as he demonstrated for much of his time in Cleveland. His second half was encouraging, but if he didn't have that 2nd half he'd be getting a 1-year deal for a few million so you're paying up big b/c of his recent performance.
#2 - Justin Masterson is very likely leaving Cleveland after this year.
Bronson Arroyo is kind of what this team needs -- a consistent RHP starter. Masterson is a bit inconsistent year-to-year, and he's supposed to be the anchor. The rest of the rotation is quite unproven with Salazar, Kluber, Bauer, Carrasco (I think McAllister is somewhat safe).
Should the Indians stretch their budget to add Ubaldo Jimenez, a risky SP with a lot of question marks given the question marks of the rest of the pitching staff? If Ubaldo tanks and Salazar misses time with an injury, Kluber regresses, Masterson has one of his off-years...this team is quite bad all of a sudden.
I've never been enamored with Bronson Arroyo but he's a pretty good fit for what this team lacks -- consistent pitching. Arroyo doesn't cost a draft pick (which I'm sure will be factored into his market price), but it's a plus. Arroyo kind of feels like Michael Bourn last year -- not a lot going on in terms of market demand and the Indians swoop in when the price got attractive.
Am I crazy for thinking Bronson Arroyo is preferable to Ubaldo?
it is so tough with jimenez and masterson. as jim I think stated, if they were better, they would be priced out of here. so we, with our limited payroll, have to take guys that are below the top tier. is that better than draft picks? I think so, but only at a good price.
as I wrote below, it's driving us all nuts if these guys are worth it. has to be driving the front office nuts too trying to figure this out on a limited budget.
hindsight is always 20/20, but right now it's tough. I would sign masterson long term first and only jimenez at a club friendly deal. and then hope he doesn't pout as tony mentioned he did in col.
Corey Smith, Derek Thompson, Dan Denham, Alan Horne, JD Martin, Michael Conroy, Jeremy Guthrie, Matt Whitney, Micah Schilling, Michael Aubrey, Brad Snyder, Adam Miller, Jeremy Sowers, Trevor Crowe, John Drennen, David Huff, Beau Mills, Lonnie Chisenhall, Alex White, Drew Pomeranz.
I hope they have enough room in Cooperstown for all those studs.
That's 1 serviceable major leaguer out of 20 (Guthrie, who we WAIVED before he became a contributor). Pomz and Chiz maybe can still become serviceable major leaguers, but I wouldn't bet on either one.
the article has nothing of substance, just hoynes thinking out loud which is what we have been doing on this board for months.
as you say, so many variables. does he come back and pout over a low deal in his mind? and even if he doesn't, has he really turned the corner? has masterson turned the corner?
not easy questions for the gm.
the one thing in the article I found interesting is he says on masterson and brantley, "but at least some progress is being made on those fronts"? I hope so, but have heard nothing of progress on those two. and I think he means progress on a one year deal to avoid arbitration. as there is no mention of a multi year deal.
I'm no Ubaldo fan, but would love him at a certain price.
I think the Indians do look at him a certain way, and they did the same with Kazmir as well. It's always about cost vs. reliability and they utilize body of work to make final assessments.
That's why Westbrook was a guy they signed. He was a 210 inning per year guy, and was insanely reliable.
The fact that he didn't pan out health wise from that point on is probably a major factor in their continued tentativeness going forward.
I know there are some that would argue that point on this site and others, but it's a fact. I've heard it mumbled, and while the secretive front office would never outwardly say that...
...Shapiro did an interview back in 2005 or 2006 in which he talked about signing pitchers long-term...BUT I CAN'T FIND IT...drives me crazy on a weekly basis that I can't.
It's the unfortunate lot we live in with a team that doesn't draw, and a market that allows individual TV deals that are so disproportionate...
Don't take me wrong I am looking forward to this upcoming draft. The Indians have a golden opportunity to turn there farm system into a top 10. Great chance to replenish there starting pitching going into the last 5 years of this decade.
I am not recommending a pick over a major leaguer, but based on the negativity over Jimenez over past 3 years that this extra pick and money just might not be that bad of an idea.
In reality I would only sign Jimenez again for a one year contract because of his up/ down results. I want to see that the second half of 13 was not a fluke.
I take joy in being a Cleveland sports fan. As bad as it can be, the highs are tremendous. I can't wait to have a front office and management team in place that takes the next step...that wins that elusive title. It may be this one...it may be the next...
When it happens, it will be huge.
I, for one, always take a major leaguer in hand than a draft pick. Deep draft or not, the percentage of major league hits are so slim in any organization. Multiple picks help that out for sure, but minimally...
And yes the critics cant wait to see this draft happen and see if the Indians would screw up this draft.
The Indians are a risk-averse team. They always have been. They've had several 90-win seasons because of it, and you can equally point to their failings at getting to the final level because of it.
It's the market the Indians are in, combined with several other factors...including attendance. ANY pitcher that the Indians can afford at this stage of their career is going to come with risks.
If Ubaldo Jimenez was a lock for his final two months going forward, we wouldn't be having this conversation, because he'd be worth 5-7 years and 150 million-plus as an ace.
He's not a lock, so his years and money come down.
Masterson's similar in level, as Steve's piece clearly shows. His upside appears to be lower, but his downside is better than Ubaldo...but still a flawed starter.
If his 2012 season built upon 2011...and he followed with last year's numbers, he wouldn't be in the Indians wheelhouse either.
So if the Indians are going to gamble on Masterson because he's a lower risk pitcher, in the same vein of Westbrook, fine. If they are going to sign Ubaldo, fine. If they are going to sign Burnett, fine.
If they don't sign any of them, then they better know something we don't with Carrasco, Bauer, Marcum and Tomlin that we don't. Assuming the top four are rock solid, and assuming that at least two of the four are going to be manageable major league starters for a bulk of the season is flawed, and will continually keep the Indians from the next level.
Not sure any of this is coherent, but my point here is you aren't going to get any bankable "ace" pitchers at this level without flaws. Ubaldo has many, for sure.
It doesn't make a lot of sense to me why the Indians would "cut ties between Jimenez" because of draft compensation, but I have to think Hoynes heard something or was told something directly to write this piece.
I still believe that the Indians have little interest in retaining Jimenez. And that they don't want a guy even at a bargain contract because they know how much he pouted and whined the last time he got a contract which he felt was undermarket. Shoot, that's the whole reason the Rockies traded him in the first place. I know we all see value at 3/39, but I still see a guy that brings risk and has had several issues in the past with his focus, inconsistency and attitude which make me hesitant to sign him. It's been my biggest hangup all along.
In all seriousness, though, I agree because, the bottom line is this: The Indians cannot afford to let both pitchers walk for draft picks- if they allow this to occur, it could really damage this window of contention and really set the franchise back in my opinion, both on the field and in the eyes of the public. The farm system is not strong enough to absorb both losses, try to replace that level of talent and expect everyone else to perform up to expectations. Salazar has the talent, but will still need some adjustment time and health. We don't know for sure how good Kluber and McAllister are, and they too need to stay healthy. Add in the enigmas of Carrasco and Bauer, along with Tomlin, and that could comprise the first five to six members of your future rotation.
Certainly, it's great potential, BUT there are a LOT of ifs, and right now, Anderson is the only other impact maker close enough to be on the radar screen (House and Packer are BOR at best, and Colon is still too far away and probably no more than BOR either).
Kime, Brady, etc. have nice potential, but are still too far away; they need to make similar gains to Anderson and get to Akron in '14 to be on the radar screen and possibly see Cleveland in '15, more likely '16.
FA isn't going to provide much help, not with skyrocketing salaries; you won't come close to getting a pitcher with Jimenez's potential for that price in future seasons unless there's a big red flag, maybe. And, trading prospects from an improving, but still not strong farm system is going to drain that strength, and there aren't a whole lot of impactful pitchers to acquire, and the few that might be available will really drain the farm system when you're counting on it for position players, bullpen players, and hopefully, future rotational pieces.
If Masterson continues his career pattern of alternating between good and bad years, then they'll be glad they signed Ubaldo.
Tony, which Hoynes article are you referring to? Do you mean about "cool" as being that the Indians aren't interested in Jimenez or that they are still in on him and would be willing to resign him at the right price?
It kind of seems all of this discussion is moot because the Indians have no intention of bringing back Ubaldo at just about any price. Hopefully he waits a while to sign with someone though, so we have something to discuss.
The reason I would consider both pitchers if possible is you can never have enough quality starters as they say. Imagine the 'problem' if we actually could trade a good starter because we had a surplus to fill another hole in the field or for a reliever?
I don't really think they could afford both Jimenez and Masterson long term. It would be too much money tied up in their pitching staff, which is otherwise young and cheap. One or the other, if you can get one of them at an okay rate. I wouldn't go 5 years to Masterson any more than I would to Ubaldo. They have the makings of a solid rotation with Masterson/Ubaldo, Salazar, Kluber and McAllister. As long as none of those guys has a major setback, you only need one of Bauer, Carrasco or Cody Anderson to hold down the #5 spot. But if they don't retain one of them then they are thin after 2014. Unless Bauer and Carrasco both take big steps forward and no one else takes a step back or gets injured, which is highly unlikely.
I would extend Masterson for the same. If not, let him play out the year and QO him after the season.
The only way to do 3 year deals or so for both now is to move cabby now. Free up 10 million. Or Bourne.
Of the two I prefer Masterson.
What if we never signed Bourne last year???? Hmmm.
We have to get the payroll to at least 100 million. Somehow. Fans really need to turn out this year. There is just no room for error at 85 or less. I didn't check, but even at 100 that's probably below mlb avg. I know many here are critical of the Dolans. And I agree a deeper pocket owner would help.
Another article to consider that I just read, and from Thursday:
Truth be told, Jimenez has been durable, even more so than Masterson (who had an injury issue last year). Plus, look at the comparisons with Garza and Nolasco- Jimenez, dare I say, would be a bargain at 3 years and up to $40M, especially if we consider 2012 to be the outlier, which it may very well be, especially if Callaway is working with him again.
I also think BOS, NYY, and DET could help to drive Masterson's pricing up if two or all three of them get into a bidding frenzy, and if that happens, the Indians lose him. And, the Indians really can't afford to lose both of them: the current rotation, the current farm system, and the free agent landscape will make it very hard for the Indians to maintain the dominant pitching they showed last year if they allow both to get away for picks. And if they don't resign Jimenez now, I fear that that is exactly what's going to happen. I am not confident Masterson will resign, especially near the dollar amount that Jimenez is expected to get. Heck, Garza got more: I would think that Masterson would get that amount, and maybe 4 years at an average value of $15 M/year, $60M total. I'm not sure the Indians would go that long and that high, especially when Masterson will be the same age next offseason as Jimenez is right now. Nor do I think they should: Masterson has enough issues of inconsistency himself, much like Jimenez, and as I've mentioned before, Masterson's 2013 H and K rates were considerably above his career norms, more so than Jimenez's, who had K/9 rates over 8 before, whereas Masterson never did (only reached 7 exactly in the last four seasons; Jimenez was well above that). That's why I think Masterson's pitching may drop off a bit or even a lot in 2014, and we don't know how pitching under the stress of a contract year, especially when pitchers aren't getting signed quickly this offseason, will affect him.
If the Indians lose both Jimenez and Masterson, this is the scenario facing the Indians:
- Salazar, Kluber, and McAllister will head the rotation: we presume Salazar will develop as the ace, but his first full season will be in 2014. He has dealt with injury issues in the past, and may be kept to 175-180 IP in 2014. There are still questions on the ceilings of the other two, and both of them came off of finger issues in 2013.
- You have to essentially rely on two of Carrasco, Bauer, Tomlin, and Anderson (and if you want to throw in House, Packer, and maybe Colon, though longer shots at sticking, the first two because of limited ceilings and the third probably being too far away) into that mix to reach near the level of McAllister and Kazmir in 2013.
- As for supplementing that group, you're looking at a bunch of 4-5 starters on the FA market- you're not going to get a 1-2 pitcher or even a 3 pitcher via FA without paying more than the Indians are comfortable UNLESS there is an injury history (how the Indians got Kazmir) and/or checkered past.
- You have the chance to gain that 1-3 starter now at an affordable price in Jimenez, probably won't get that same price range in Masterson, and almost certainly won't in the future with these escalating prices.
- And, as I've mentioned, any draft pick you get for either or both of Jimenez and Masterson won't be of much use to the current crop of Indians, and probably won't be to the organization until 2018-2020 at the earliest, and that's only if they develop as projected, which has been a considerable "if" with the Indians for the past 20 years. Off the top of my head, Sabathia did, Lindor and Naquin MIGHT, and no one else comes to mind. Guys like Kirkreit, Aubrey, Guthrie, etc., etc. all fell by the wayside due to injuries, I effectiveness or both. Chisenhall is far from a given, and a high second rounder in Howard is looking more lime a bust, and those were more recent draft picks. Getting two draft picks for Jimenez and Masterson will not seem like a positive to me, even with the full slot pool available to us, because of the Indians' inability to draft well for the most part the past 20 years. The trend suggests that those extra picks won't provide much impactful value to the organization, and even if they do, not for this current group of Indians and this current window of contention. I could see getting one pick if you fail to sign one of them, but you can't afford to allow both of them to get away and have just two picks to show for it; I don't think it will help the ballclub long-term, never mind the PR backlash the Indians will receive, just when the majority of Cleveland is finally starting to notice them again.
Bottom line: Resign Jimenez now; if by some circumstance Masterson's price drops to the point where you can resign him next year, then by all means, consider and work toward resigning him, but it would not be wise to work under the presumption that we can resign Masterson based on what's happened with this offseason, the Tanaka sweepstakes, and the distinct possibility of three big market teams (NYY, BOS, DET) all potentially being in on Masterson. If any one of those three are in, the Indians likely don't retain him, and if two or three are in the running, it's a guarantee the Indians will be out of the running. As I've said, I don't think the Indians will be in good shape if both leave for draft picks; one must be retained, and the likelier bet, and maybe the better choice, is Jimenez. If you need to trade Cabrera to do it, do so. You could potentially trade Bourn next offseason if you feel you can resign Masterson at that point. You'll have Lindor to take over for Cabrera as soon as the second half of '14, and you'll likely have options of Moncrief, Holt, or even moving Brantley back to CF to replace Bourn if you feel Masterson can be signed and Bourn needs to be moved to make financial room. You have options to make it work for Jimenez, and even in the case of Masterson if he is obtainable after signing Jimenez. Yes, it's a long shot for both, but the door isn't totally closed, but putting all of your eggs in Masterson's basket by letting Jimenez and risk losing both for draft picks could really damage the Indians' current window of contention for some time to come.
Lets say...who would you rather have ACab for 1 yr or Ubaldo Jimenez for 3 yrs? The Tribe could get creative and wait until the end of ST or risk (injury / production) carrying him until the deadline and trade ACab.
By trading ACab the Tribe could free enough payroll to front load a deal with Jimenez that would function with a descending yearly salary similar to what the Cards gave Jhonny Peralta.
Another alternative: a $10 M option with a $3 M buyout. By adding the option they could offer Jimenez less per yr but guarantee he'd receive the buyout. As such the deal would equal Ricky Nolasco's 4/$49 if the option was picked up by the club.
As proposed above (w/o the option): That equals out to 3/$39 with average salary of $13M per.
My point is, the Tribe could and IMHO, should get creative to facilitate adding Jimenez at a below mkt value. Adding Jimenez would also, provide insurance against losing Masterson via FA, but possibly strengthen the clubs chances of making a playoff run.
This fuss over Ubaldo Jimenez is laughable considering how absolutely terrible he was for the Indians for 3/4 of his time in Cleveland.
Last offseason, Asdrubal Carbera and Vinnie Pestano were untouchable and Ubaldo Jimenez was worthless. How quickly things can change.
Not a fan of that question, as don't believe you "have to keep" either. Bu if I did had to keep one....do you mean had to have one beyond 2014? If so, I'd probably say Masterson if you put a gun to my head. But that leaves you very thin in 2014 in regards to pitching.
Maybe this is cheating on that question...who would I rather have....I'd ultimately choose both....and trade Bourn to make it feasible in 2015 and 2016. Still think Masterson could be the #4 starter by 2015 in this scenario, which isn't the ideal way to spend money; however, I believe in Salazar and even more in Kluber...rotation of Kluber, Ubaldo, Salazar, and Masterson the next 3 years is a rotation I'd feel good about in a 5 or 7 game series.
Don't get me wrong, would still be on board with an extension, though I think my 5year/$75M is actually too much (5yr/$65M if you include 2014 seems more reasonable now). I just think looking at the recent market that you very likely will get Masterson for fewer years/less money if you wait.
Plus....what if Salazar lives up to his potential and Kluber pitches like he did in 2013 again? Masterson may be your #3 in 2015 then...and that's if you don't resign Ubaldo. Could end up paying your #4 starter $15M. Not bad as you'll be paying Kluber/Salazar a lot less, but may need to allot that money elsewhere.
Kluber...I can see why people are sketicapal, but I just love what he did last year and think he's gonna be even better. His ERA was over 5 in 2012...but his xFIP was actually under 4. xFIP this year dropped even more to 3.10 to go along with a 3.30 FIP...both a good amount better than his already fantastic ERA. Again, if healthy...I think he's a #2 if not your Ace in 2014.
The bottom line is that this team needs a competent starter for the foreseeable future. Who really is a sure thing right now on the current rotation? Masterson. I like Kluber and McAllister as No. 3 and No. 4 options, but I think we all would like to see more than a few months of them. On a similar note, Salazar has ace written all over, but we all want to see more than 10 starts just so we know he'll hold up.
My fear is that they'll end up banking on Tomlin, Carrasco and Bauer. I have no faith in any of them and anyone who does is kidding themselves. It's a sad thing when the most consistent of the three may be Tomlin. Of course, who had faith in Jimenez last season? No one, so one season can change things a lot. However, the one difference is Jimenez at least had a previous track record of Major League success. Of Carrasco, Bauer and Tomlin, the guy who is closest to that is Tomlin... and I just can't see how he can be in the rotation on a playoff-contending team. Not with the way how ptiching dictates things these days.
They were? Was pitching well in May, June, and July so don't recall the Tribe looking at voiding that deal even at the beginning of the summer.
If that's the case, who do you pick?
That's almost an unfair question, because Masterson's more likely to do that...but suspend disbelief. Let's say Santana averages out...who's better?
Remember, the Indians were going to void his deal up through July, so if he ultimately balances what COULD have happened, with what WILL happen, three-years at $33-$39 million may seem like a godsend.
If nobody will go three, I imagine he either takes a one-year deal, or a two year deal with an option for a third.
Not sure what teams are thinking at this point.