Yes, this seems crazy. The Mets appear to have already broken the bank with the signings of Chris Young, Curtis Granderson, and Bartolo Colon this offseason and even without Matt Harvey, the Mets' rotation appears to be their best attribute heading into 2014. However, just humor me.
Ubaldo Jimenez does not come without his faults. Back in 2010 he took the league by storm with a 2.88 ERA, a 3.10 FIP, and 6.5 fWAR—the second best among pitchers that year—and half of this was done in the impossible-to-pitch-in air of Coors Field. Then in 2011, the wheels came off. He suspiciously lost 2.6 MPH on his average fastball and predictably watched his FIP spike by almost two full points while splitting his time between Colorado and, following a midseason trade, Cleveland. In 2012 his struggles continued to mount as his ERA (5.40), FIP (5.06), and fWAR (0.1) all reached career worsts.
Then, in the midst of another terrible year in 2013, Jimenez, considered by many to be a lost cause, claimed to have fixed some mechanical issues, and all of a sudden started pitching well again. And perhaps Jimenez did indeed find something because he certainly backed up his talk with great numbers. After registering a 4.50 FIP, 21.7% strikeout rate, and 12.2% walk rate during the first half of the season, Jimenez posted a sterling 2.17 FIP while watching his strikeout rate spike to 29.1% and his walk rate dip to 7.9%. All in all, Jimenez finished 2013 with a 3.30 ERA, 3.43 FIP, and 3.2 fWAR.
It's almost February now, and thanks to his inconsistent past and the fact that he is tied to draft-pick compensation, Jimenez is still looking for a new home. At the beginning of the offseason it was rumored that Jimenez was looking for a deal as high as $20 million per season and a four-year deal to boot. However, Jimenez now appears to be wising up and his asking price may have dropped to as low as three years and $39 million.
This is where the Mets come in. Yes, the rotation appears to be pretty set with Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler, Bartolo Colon, and Dillon Gee manning the front four, and could be in even better shape if Jenrry Mejia can grab the fifth spot and stay healthy until Noah Syndergaard and possibly Rafael Montero take over in June. And then the Mets' rotation in 2015 looks even better when Matt Harvey returns. However, as the saying goes, you can never have too much pitching, something the Rays have certainly taught us in the last couple of seasons.
Jimenez would be a risky signing, but Sandy Alderson has talked about taking calculated risks. Signing Jimenez would give the Mets a very good rotation in 2014, a great one in 2015, and tons of flexibility. All of this for just $13 million a year and the loss of only their third-round pick, since their first-round pick is protected and their second-round pick was forefeited when they signed Curtis Granderson.
For a while now, everyone has kind of assumed that Stephen Drew would be the player to fall into the Mets' lap at a reduced price, but what if that player were actually Ubaldo Jimenez?