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Sunday, January 12, 2014
Hot Stove Talk: Ubaldo Jimenez

By Richard Durrett

Note: Over the next few days, we'll take a look at some external and internal possibilities for the starting pitching rotation to replace Derek Holland, as the lefty is expected to miss the first half of the season.

Today's pitcher: Ubaldo Jimenez

Ubaldo Jimenez
Ubaldo Jimenez had a bounce-back season and could be an option for the Rangers to explore.
Take a gander at the statistics from the second half of the 2013 season and you'll likely have difficulty finding a pitcher in the American League that was better than Ubaldo Jimenez.

In his final 13 starts after the All-Star break, Jimenez was 6-5 with a stout 1.82 ERA (in 84 innings). Opponents hit just .223 against him and he had 100 strikeouts to 27 walks with a 1.14 WHIP.

For the year, Jimenez ended up 13-9 for the Cleveland Indians with a 3.30 ERA in 32 starts. And he's hoping that his strong second half lands him a nice deal on the open market.

But there are reasons Jimenez is still available. Like the rest of the free-agent pitching crop left on the market, nothing much is expected to happen until Masahiro Tanaka makes his decision. Tanaka has to decide where he's playing in 2014 by Jan. 24. Also, any team that signs Jimenez surrenders a draft pick. The Rangers have already given up their first-round selection to sign Shin-Soo Choo. Is Jimenez worth a second-rounder? Perhaps.

Jimenez, though, is attempting to get a new deal off one good season recently. His 3.30 ERA is his best -- by far -- since he was an All-Star in 2010. Jimenez had a 5.40 ERA in 2012 and a 4.68 ERA in 2011. So does 2013 mean the All-Star Jimenez is back or is it a bit of a fluke? That's one thing teams must ask their scouts and figure out.

But Jimenez is another pitcher who has had past success that is available as the Rangers look around for rotation depth.