SARASOTA, Fla. -- Patience has paid off for the Orioles, who signed Ubaldo Jimenez to a four-year, $50 million contract Monday night, a source confirmed to MLB.com.
The deal is pending a physical, and the club has not confirmed the agreement, which is the longest contract Baltimore has ever doled out to a free-agent starting pitcher. Jimenez's contract comes on the heels of the O's official announcement of a three-year, $5.75 million deal for Suk-min Yoon, and it is far and away their largest monetary commitment this winter. The news was first reported by MASNSports.com.
Seeking a starter the entire offseason, the Orioles were hesitant to give up a Draft pick, although they will have to for Jimenez since he declined the Tribe's qualifying offer. The move, which perhaps signifies that the O's are in win-now mode, is a huge boon for an organization that was incredibly quiet on the Hot Stove market.
The Orioles, who had also kept in contact with former Royals right-hander Ervin Santana's camp, had payroll flexibility after trading closer Jim Johnson to the A's, and they will be able to defer some of Jimenez's salary. He joins a rotation that also includes Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez and Bud Norris, although that fifth spot was widely thought to be still up for grabs.
The 30-year-old has spent the past 2 1/2 years with the Indians, and Jimenez is coming off a solid 2013 in which he went 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA in 32 starts.
Because Jimenez declined Cleveland's qualifying offer, Baltimore will forfeit the 17th overall selection in this June's First-Year Player Draft. The O's would also lose the portion of Draft pool money that corresponds with the pick.
Jimenez's best season came in 2010, when he went 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA for the Rockies and finished third overall in the National League Cy Young Award voting. After struggling through the first half of the '11 season, Jimenez was dealt to the Indians at the non-waiver Trade Deadline for a package of prospects.
Jimenez continued to struggle in Cleveland, posting a 5.10 ERA in the final two months of 2011, before leading the league in losses in '12. But last season, he seemed to regain his old form, specifically as the season progressed. Jimenez posted a 1.82 ERA in the season's second half, while striking out 10.7 hitters per nine innings. With Cleveland in a tight Wild Card race, Jimenez went 4-0 with a 1.09 ERA in six September outings -- all quality starts.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com.