Ubaldo Jimenez and the shiny new toy

Matsui will be at Spring Training as a special instructor
Derek Jeter announces plan to retire following 2014 season
(Jason Miller/Getty)
(Jason Miller/Getty)

Everyone likes a shiny new toy. The Yankees have plenty of them this spring, having spent hundreds of millions on seven new players. But here’s the thing about shiny new toys: no matter how many we have, we never mind having another.

The desire to sign Ubaldo Jimenez absolutely stems from the idea of acquiring another shiny new toy. Removing that aspect from the equation reveals reality. The Yankees don’t need to sign Jimenez.

At the same time, there are practical reasons why signing Jimenez could benefit the Yankees now and in the future.

The Pineda factor

If the Yankees signed Jimenez, they would bring five surefire starting pitchers to camp. It would terminate the fifth starter battle, effectively ending Michael Pineda‘s chances of breaking camp with the team.

By all appearances, Pineda is ready to win a rotation spot. Given his youth and potential to help in 2015 and beyond, he is the ideal fifth starter candidate. Why remove him from the race, then?

Consider that:

1) Pineda has never thrown more than 171 innings in a season, and that came two full years ago. He threw just 40 last year. Coming off major shoulder surgery, can the Yankees count on Pineda for even 120 innings this year?

2) Five starters might come into camp, but what are the chances all five are healthy and effective come June 1? They’ll need a sixth starter before long, whether that’s due to injury or even Ivan Nova pitching like he did in 2012. Pineda will have opportunities.

3) If the Yankees don’t need a sixth starter until, say mid-May, they might even eke out yet another year of control on Pineda. This is not a decisive factor by any means, but rather an added bonus.

The Yankees can manage Pineda’s workload much more closely in AAA, where the results won’t affect their playoff chances. They can pace him for 120 or 130 innings (if that’s their goal for him) and adjust when he’s needed in the majors.

In an ideal world, Michael Pineda breaks camp as the fifth starter and pitches like a No. 2 or No. 3 all season long. In reality, that’s not at all likely. Adding Jimenez would hold back Pineda, but it might make his transition back to the majors a bit easier.

Warren, Phelps, Nuno

Even if the Yankees don’t sign Jimenez, they have alternatives in case Pineda does indeed require more seasoning. Adam Warren, David Phelps, and Vidal Nuno all started games last year. Why not just use them?

None of them strikes me as a long-term starter on a first-division team. If needed to spot start four or five times during the season, they’re fine. But are they guys capable of taking the ball every five days while facing off against AL East offenses?

Consider also the bullpen situation. Both Phelps and Warren have shown success in the bullpen, and could strengthen a unit that has just lost the greatest closer of all time. There are plenty of bullpen spots up for grabs this spring. It’s doubtful any of the candidates fit the bill better than Phelps and Warren. Even if one of them does shine, there are four total spots up for grabs.

The man himself

It has become clear that Jimenez will not get an A.J. Burnett contract. Rumors swirled that he was willing to take three years and $39 million, but he might not get even that much. What seems more realistic is the Kyle Lohse special, three years and $33 million.

That price seems reasonable for a 30-year-old who just put up the best strikeout rate of his career. Jimenez started slowly, which was concerning after his nosedive in 2012. But he came back strongly and looked straight dominant in the second half. He might not be an ace, but in this situation he wouldn’t need to be one, nor would he get paid like one.

Three years seems a reasonable commitment. The Yankees will almost certainly need another starter next year, assuming Hiroki Kuroda retires. Jimenez could give the Yankees another decent starter while they clean up the mess on the farm.

Do the Yankees need to sign Ubaldo Jimenez? Absolutely not. That’s money they could spend elsewhere, namely the infield, even if they don’t spend it until mid-season. (Because it’s tough to spend money now when you can count the remaining infielder free agents on one hand.)

But if Jimenez falls into their laps for three years and $33 million?

Even ignoring the shiny new toy aspect, it’s something they’d have to consider.

Matsui will be at Spring Training as a special instructor
Derek Jeter announces plan to retire following 2014 season
  • JB Early

    This Winter has upped my crazy, way past acceptable USDA levels. In light of that – si, Yanquis, si. Sign Ubaldo. AND then Stephen Drew. We all want, no, need to make Signor Boras happy. . ..

  • Farewell Mo

    3/$33 would be a no brainer for Jimenez. Even if he sucked, the Yankees could easily absorb that loss and keep rolling.

    IMO, the upside far exceeds the risk at those numbers.

    • Havok9120

      Furthermore, him “sucking” likely doesn’t make him totally unusable, just a back end guy. So there’s likely value there either way.

      • Cool Lester Smooth

        Unless him sucking does make him totally useless, like it did in 2011 and 2012…

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      I still can’t believe he’s going to sign for that little.

      • Farewell Mo

        I agree it seems rather hard to believe.

        Draft picks seem to be way, way overvalued now a days, though.

      • Jonathan

        All I can think of is the Hughes contract vs this. We should sign him at that price ASAP.

  • Havok9120

    It’s the bullpen argument that gets me the most. There is no better way for us to improve the bullpen than to push Phelps and Warren into it full time. And much as I’d love Pineda to come in and rock and roll for a few months, we’re talking about a guy the team almost certainly won’t let pitch a full season of innings.

    If he falls to us on a deal like 3/33, sign me up. We don’t know what CC is going forward and Kuroda may be gone after the season. Nova’s still a question mark, and the best case scenario from the farm still only gives us two starters (Pineda and ManBan) with high upside that could enter the rotation for 2015. And I’m not ready to bet on the best case scenario.

  • ALZ

    If they can get him at $33MM/3 I wouldn’t hesitate for one minute. They should jump at that opportunity. I think that he will be a solid #3 and that would be an absolute bargain.

  • Steve_Balboni

    Forget Ubaldo. He isn’t going to do anything Pineda/Phelps/Warren can’t do at worst by committee. We should have used our money to keep Cano, but at this point we need to be ready to find replacements for Tex and Jeter as I am very worried about their health and ability to make it through the season!

    • Paddy’s Pub

      I agree with your general point, but I feel like Jimenez is a far better option than any of the starters you mentioned.

      • Preston

        I think that he’s more likely to be a league average pitcher than any one of Pineda, Phelps, Warren and Nuno. But at the same time I think it’s highly likely that one of those four can step up. And if we sign Ubaldo we’re not giving them the opportunity to do that.

      • Steve_Balboni

        You are probably right, but if we end up using all three of them comnbined during the season they will probably perform as well as Ubaldo alone would.

    • lightSABR

      What can Ubaldo do that Pineda can’t? Pitch a full season this year.

      What can he do that Phelps and Warren can’t? Pitch to a sub-4.00 ERA and FIP, and put up 2.5-ish WAR.

      I agree with your concerns about Jeter and Teix, and have my own concerns about Brian Roberts and whoever covers third once Roberts gets injured and Johnson moves to second. But who are you going to get to replace them?

      You can win games either by scoring runs or by preventing them, and the upgrades to the rotation and bullpen from signing Jimenez would be substantial.

  • TWTR

    Unless they are just going to keep spending, the infield is a much more glaring need.

    • Farewell Mo

      This is true.

      If it were one or the other, I’d take the infielder who’s name I will not mention.

      Hint 1: Nancy_______.
      Hint 2: It’s certainly not Pelosi!

      • TheEvilUmpire

        Nancy Grace?

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      I kind of agree, except Jimenez would be in the rotation in 2015/2016 too, and we’re going to need another arm or two(at least).

    • dkidd

      drew is a shortstop

      we have two of them

      • lightSABR

        Drew can play shortstop. That way when Jeter gets injured, Drew can slide over from third and keep Brendan Ryan (with his 44 wRC+) in the backup role where he belongs.

        • nyyankfan

          Except that Stephen Drew HAS NEVER PLAYED 3B…..EVER.

          This isn’t a video game- he can’t be counted on to be even an average 3B in a real game situation.

          • Farewell Mo

            But you have no problem penciling in Kelly Johnson and his 118 career innings at 3rd base though?

            • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

              To be fair, at least Kelly Johnson is on the team already.

            • Preston

              Well it means he went to ST and practiced at 3b with coaching, and they thought he was good enough to actually put into game situations. Then he played, and performed well in those 118 innings. We don’t know that Drew has ever even taken a grounder at the hot corner. I think he’d be able to do it. But there might be a pretty nasty transition period.

            • Havok9120

              118 quality defensive innings. Drew isn’t all that good defensively at his primary position.

              Again, I would love to get Drew on the right contract, but there are issues there that could sap a lot of value from him.

              • Cool Lester Smooth

                Stephen Drew is a very good defensive shortstop, so I’m not sure where you’re getting that idea.

        • Farewell Mo

          but but but Drewz ain’t that good anyway.

          Didn’t you see teh playoffz?

    • lightSABR

      I agree with you, but improving the infield is a bit difficult right now. Drew’s the only option, and if you sign him, the infield roster gets really cluttered. Can he really play third? If he plays third, what do you do with Kelly Johnson? Platoon him with Roberts at second, I guess, and have him cover third when Drew needs a day off or plays shortstop for a day while Jeter is resting.

      You know, that actually sounds really good. The only downside would be missing out on Brendan Ryan’s sweet plays at shortstop, since signing Drew might reduce his playing time to basically nothing. But I sure as heck won’t miss watching him bat.

      But anyway, the nice thing about Ubaldo is that signing him would be a big boost for the rotation and would do a lot to fix our current bullpen shakiness at the same time. And you don’t have to do quite so much shuffling to make that work.

      • Havok9120

        It all comes down to the price. I think there’s more room for improvement of the team by signing a starter, but the team is definitely better with Drew than without it (at least potentially).

      • Cool Lester Smooth

        Drew pushes Roberts to the bench, not Johnson. The last time Roberta was as good as Johnson was last year was 2010.

  • Dropped Third

    I’d be okay with having Pineda or Phelps for that 5th starter role. That being said I think that the 6th starter will be used quite a bit this season with C.C and Kuroda getting up there in age, Tanaka possibly needing to have his work load monitored, and if Pineda is the 5th starter he hasn’t quite been Mr. Durability either.

    I’d be totally on board if Ublado fell into our laps. That lets Pineda work in AAA till he is needed. This pushes Phelps to the pen (where help is needed) so he can work multiple innings and keep Kuroda’s and Tanaka’s work loads down a bit. Plus a rotation of C.C, Kuroda, Tanaka, Ublado and Nova would be pretty sweet.

    • I’m One

      +1. If they get him, fine (especially at 3/$33 or something similar). If not, I’m not losing sleep over it. I’d go to battle with what they have.

      • Havok9120

        Yeah, I’m very much there as well.

  • FMB2345

    If we’re only signing one more player I’d prefer Stephen Drew to help improve the infield. That being said if he actually is willing to take a deal with a one year opt out and Jimenez’s price drops to around 10m annually I see no reason not to try for both. Give Pineda another year to get all the way back. Then he can replace Kuroda if and when he quits, or be an above average fill in when somebody gets hurt this year.

  • AJosh

    That uniform is awesome.

  • hogsmog

    If this 33/3 talk is true, yeah totally. I think we’d take that in a heartbeat next season. I think it’s silly when people say ‘but we’ve already spent so much this offseason,’ because these needs will still exist in 2015…

  • mitch

    I definitely would not pass him up at 3/33. That’s an absolute steal for a guy that has 3+ WAR in 5 or the last 6 seasons.

    • Ed

      The problem here is he’s one of those guys where his fWAR and his results don’t come close to matching up.

      bWAR last 3 years:

      I’m not sure I trust his 2013 enough to write off his 2011-2012.

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

        2011 was very different than 2012 if you look at the peripheral stats.

      • mitch

        True, and his loss of velocity definitely contributed to the decline. He trended downward pretty significantly for two years. It’s possible that 2013 was an aberration, but the optimist would say that he figured out how to pitch was diminished heat. At 3/33 i think he’s worth the risk.

  • JoeyA

    Couldn’t the case be made that Stephen Drew has already fallen into their laps?

    I feel like all the rationale above could have been made for Drew over the least 2 weeks.

    It’s quite annoying when a team sinks this much money to improve and has no problem going into the season with question markets at 2 (poss 3 if you consider SS) infield positions.

    Drew would sure up SS or 3B as avg to above avg regular. His price has dropped precipitously, with teams’ major hesitency coming with his draft pick compensation attached.

    Yankees should have no such hesitency, since we’ve already given up plenty of picks this offseason. his price doesnt seemt o be more than a 1 or 2yr deal, around $11M/yr

    Seemes like not only a better investment for what the teams needs than Jiminez, but also a value buy considering his weak market overall.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      Let me paint you a picture.

      *it’s a dark november afternoon on RAB*
      Commenter: “What the heck are the Yankees waiting for? They haven’t signed anyone, we have so many question marks on this team. We’re not even going to win 80 games this year.”

      Defenders of Logic: It’s November.

      Commenter: “Oh so that means Cashman can just sit around and twiddle his fingers? This is unacceptable. I’m not coming to YS3 next season.”

      Later that offseason
      Commenter: “Woooohoooo look at all our new toys!”

      • Farewell Mo

        It’s quite annoying when a team sinks this much money to improve and has no problem going into the season with question markets at 2 (poss 3 if you consider SS) infield positions.

        If you remove this paragraph, everything else he says makes pretty good sense.

        • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

          “Yankees should have no such hesitency” is what I was directly responding to.

          The hesitancy so far has brought the price down. The season doesn’t start tomorrow, and no other team has signed him either. They’re perfectly justified in having hesitency.

      • lightSABR

        Darn you defenders of logic. You never let us have any fun around here.

        That said, spring training starts for real in like five days. I can’t imagine that Drew and Jimenez are going to be free agents much longer, and it’d be nice to see (at least) one of them in pinstripes this year.

        • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

          No need for him to be in a camp at the start, really.

          Even still, 5 days is still plenty of time, if Cashman decides to roll the dice. His price has fallen, there’s a non-zero chance it falls more, or he’s willing to make even further concessions. If no one else is chomping at the bit, why force the issue?

          • lightSABR

            Yeah, I guess that’s right.

            Fingers crossed. I want a(nother) shiny new toy. :)

    • Mike HC

      Our entire infield is questionable. Except maybe Johnson, but that isn’t necessarily a positive.

  • 28,29…

    How exactly is Ubaldo “shiny”? Useful sure.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      “Shiny new toy” is an expression used to describe anyone we haven’t had on the team before. It doesn’t mean the “toy” is actually worthy of the shine.

      • Mike HC

        I don’t know. I always took “shiny new toy” to mean a good free agent addition, not just anybody. But I do think Ubaldo is shiny enough to qualify.

        • Mike HC

          *or a good player we get in a trade

  • Dick M

    Will never forget that one year where he was flat out unhittable for a while. He was as good a pitcher as there was in baseball.

    Very strange career arc.

  • dkidd

    off topic, but aj burnett in philadelphia seems like a recipe for disaster

  • Joe R

    With Burnett getting 1/16, im not sure 3/33 is even remotely possible. Even when losing a draft pick.

    • TheEvilUmpire

      Burnett gets premium pay for a.) not being attached to draft pick compensation; and b.) accepting a 1-year deal

  • dee

    Let’s say Yanks sign Jimenez. Use Warren/Phelps/Pineda as trade bat for decent INF’er?

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      Those 3 altogether might net you a half-decent infielder right now.

      • lightSABR

        Yeah, and it’d be an odd trade. We’d need some team to be really, really desperate for pitching, to the point where they’d give up a competent starting infielder for two 1-WAR arms and a lottery ticket.

      • mitch

        Agreed. None of those guys are worth much now. The perfect scenario following a Jimenez signing would be Pineda regaining form in AAA, and Nova continuing his success from 2013. Then you’d have something interesting to offer in a mid-season deal.

        • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

          I wouldn’t deal anyone. Let Pineda finish off the year in AAA or have him give the MLB guys a rest towards the end of his innings limit. Then you have an in house replacement for Kuroda.

          • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

            ^In the best case scenario of course.

  • Derek Jeter

    That headline made me think we signed him….. Mother Fuc%er!

  • sevrox

    My money’s on Nuno – I think he’ll be in the 5th spot when camp breaks.

  • Bobby d

    So obvious it’s not funny that the Yankees need another starter. We all know you need at least seven starters to get through a major league season especially with the age and uncertainty in the current yankee rotation. Will CC be able to pitch effectively with diminished velocity? Will Kuroda be effective for an entire season? Can nova finally have a complete consistently good season? Will Tanaka pitch up to expectations. Will any of the aforementioned miss time due to injury? How can the yankees rely on Phelps, Pineda,Warren or Nuno who have never shown they can pitch effectively as starter for an entire season? This is a championship team? For that to happen every question above would have to be answered positively. Come on Cash, Hal, Randy, who are you kidding! This is a 85 win team again. You need at least one more good, proven major league starter.. Secondly you lost the greatest closer of all time and a very consistent left hand reliever and you replaced them with a reliever that the Red Sox would not even allow on their post season roster. Someone hopefully will emerge to help in that bullpen as well!

  • Mike HC

    For most of the off season I was all set with resigning Hiroki and getting Tanaka. But at this point, I’m in for another starter. With the questionable infield and shallow bullpen, we need wins wherever we can get them.

    • Havok9120


  • cranky

    “By all appearances, Pineda is ready to win a rotation spot.”

    What appearances?
    His AAA numbers at the end of the year were so-so.
    Reports I’ve seen say he seems healthy and is throwing 93.
    But he used to throw 97.
    We don’t know a thing about Pineda’s readiness for 2014.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      Michael Pineda average fastball, 2011: 94.2mph

      • Chris H

        Exactly, he had one of the fastest average fastballs in baseball that year, he’s never come close to that with the Yankees. In the minors last year he was sitting 90-92 and hitting 93/94, before ST 2012 he was sitting 94/95 and hitting 97/98.

        I hope Pineda is ready to take the job and keep it but he has a long way to go befire he proves he’s even a decent starter post surgery, let alone 2011 Pineda.

  • HectorLopez

    Drew has never played third base, but that doesn’t keep the yankee fan from demanding the Yankees sign him and put him at third? I guess using that logic if robinson fails at closing we can just put Drew there !!!! This team is far from complete but now that they have gone past the 189 number they will make adjustments during the season. The team that breaks camp in April will not be the team winning the A.L. East in October!!!

    • lightSABR

      I agree with you on one thing: if we break camp with this team, we will not be winning the A.L. East in October.

      (And the division title is determined in September anyway.)

  • Bobby

    Francesa is reading an announcement from the Captain saying this year is it. Holy shit

  • I’m a looser and a trader baby so why don’t you kill me?


  • CapitalT

    Why no love for Nuno. He has put up good numbers at every level and doesn’t put men on base?

  • Derek Jeter

    I will be retireing after the 2014 season .. Thank You Yankees Fans for all your support!!

    “New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter announces on Facebook that the 2014 season will be his last.

    “The 2014 season will be my last year playing professional baseball,” the Yankees captain said in a 15-paragraph note on the social media site.”

  • Wally

    Did I miss something? Why the connection of Jimenez with the Yankees on this thread?

    • Chris H

      Because it’s a Yankee blog talking about the Yankees reasons for signing him?

  • willie w

    I want to see more youngsters develop for the yanks in the major leagues for the yanks not for other teams

  • matt Orlando

    What about the infielder the royals just released, why don’t the Yankees sign him? I think he would be better than most of the alternatives we have now.

  • Captain Sensible

    If it’s such a no-brainer. Why has nobody else signed him?

    • matt Orlando

      Nobody has holes at second, short and third? I was wondering if there is something else going on.

  • KING of Fruitless Hypotheticals

    Offer 3/30 tonight and give him until Friday at 5. For all those reasons. If he falls apart, shove him into the pen and hope we get half the $ out of him. Jeter’s last season, totally worth it.

    If he rocks, then damn, he may even get another payday.

  • Karen W.

    I’d like to say that it is beyond Bizarre that someone will give AJ Burnett $16 million and poor old Ubaldo can’t get 3/$39

    That being said based on his reputation I would only give him a HEAVILY incentive laden contract – kind of like the one Napoli had with the Sux because again, according to his reputation Ubaldo needs incentives.

    So I’m with: 3/$24 – all incentives met 3/$42