Baltimore Orioles upgrade rotation with Jimenez, Yoon

Cleveland Indians

The Baltimore Orioles were able to address their need for starting pitching this past week with the additions of right-handers Ubaldo Jimenez and Suk-min Yoon.

Jimenez signed a 4-year, $50 million contract on Monday. The 30-year-old, a former member of  the Colorado Rockies and Cleveland Indians, earned a 13-9 record with a 3.30 ERA in 2013, after rebounding from a poor first half performance to post a 1.82 ERA following the All-Star break, leading the Indians to a Wild Card berth. While he has the talent to pitch at the top of the rotation and take the ball in the first game of a postseason series, he has lacked the consistency that is necessary in order to thrive in that important role so far in his career.

Because Jimenez declined the qualifying offer that the Indians submitted, the Orioles will have to forfeit their first round selection in the upcoming amateur draft.

Yoon, a veteran of the Korean Baseball Association, signed a 3-year, $5.75 million deal on Monday afternoon. A member of the Kia Tigers in 2013, he pitched to a 3-6 record with a 4.00 ERA with 7 saves after being used in relief due to injury problems.

Yoon’s likely role for the Orioles this season will be as a long reliever out of the bullpen, because the starting rotation currently consists of Jimenez, Chris Tillman, Wei-yin Chen, Bud Norris, and Miguel Gonzalez. However, he could easily step in as a starting pitcher if  a member of the rotation goes down with an injury, as he had a 2.45 ERA with 17 wins in 2011 as a starter in the Korean league.

These two much needed additions give the Orioles an excellent chance to compete in the AL East this year for a possible division crown. The key for the rotation will be which Ubaldo the Orioles see this season. Whether they see the Ubaldo from before the All-Star break or the much better one from after the break will be a key factor in whether the O’s can challenge the Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, and New York Yankees in their division. If Jimenez can be more consistent with his mechanics this year and is able pitch like the Cy Young contender he was in 2011, the Orioles will have a good chance at making a return to the postseason.