CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The locker room had not even cleared out on Wednesday night, but already the whispers could be heard among reporters about what moves would the Indians look to make this offseason.
The focus of the whispers seemed to center around a couple of players, with veterans like Chris Perez, Asdrubal Cabrera, and pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez being the men mentioned the most.
Perez and Cabrera are decisions that the front office can sit back and wait on, as Cabrera is inked for $10 mil in 2014, and Perez is arbitration eligible, which means at the end of the day if the Indians want him back, they can bring him back.
Jimenez is another story, the 30-year-old is set to hit the free agent market, and demand on him should be plenty after the second half of 2013 that he turned in.
The deal that Jimenez inked back in 09 with Colorado contained an $8 million club option for the 2014 season, but it also allowed him to void that option if he was dealt, which of course he was.
Hence why he will be able to go out and test the market instead of it being a done deal that he would be back in an Indians uniform in 2014.
The big question for Jimenez is a pretty simple one – would he take less to come back to the Indians in 2014?
If so, how much is it going to cost the Indians to reel him in for a few more seasons?
“We haven’t talked, but of course I would listen to them,” Jimenez told the Plain Dealer back in early September. “They have treated me really good here. It feels like home.”
The 30-year-old Jimenez holds the cards to find a new home if he chooses, and as far as other free agent pitchers, there’s not many that are as young and have the track record he has.
One pitcher that could set the market is Phil Hughes, the 27-year-old had an awful 2013 at 4-14, but was a dominant reliever for the Yankees in 2009, and is young enough where teams will come calling.
Josh Johnson, who just had arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur in his elbow is another name to watch.
He had a career 58-45 mark with a 3.40 ERA, and will draw interest despite struggling in 2013.
The other name to watch oddly enough is Jimenez’s 2013 teammate, Scott Kazmir.
He jumped back into the Majors and was solid in 2013, going 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA.
If the Indians are out of the market for Ubaldo, there’s a chance the team could shift their focus to Kazmir, making a run at him to be possibly the third or fourth in the rotation in 2014.
So just what is Ubaldo Jimenez worth on the open market?
That’s the key question.
He dominated the second half of the 2013 season, and won the AL pitcher of the month award for September, going 4-0 in six starts with a 1.09 ERA, seven walks and 51 strikeouts over 41.1 innings.
Will the Indians get any type of discount from Jimenez for sticking through him while he struggled through the a season in 2012 that saw him lead the American League in losses with 17.
If the Indians are going to build from 92 wins in 2013, they will have to make tough decisions.
With teams like the Nationals and Yankees reportedly already showing interest in Jimenez, the Indians may be on the outside looking in for his services.
The Indians and Jimenez seem like a solid fit going forward. The question is, does he feel the same way?
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