Orioles make Jimenez signing official (updated)

SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles have announced the signing of pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez to a four-year contract. He will be introduced to the media in a Thursday morning press conference.

Jimenez, 30, agreed to terms on a $50 million deal on Monday. Most of his physical took place yesterday, with the eye and dental exams completed this morning.

Jimenez already had a locker set up in the clubhouse this morning. He’s been assigned No. 31.

To make room for Jimenez on the 40-man roster, the Orioles have designated pitcher Liam Hendriks for assignment.

“We’re looking forward to him joining - I’m not going to say the competition for the starting job. I don’t want to insult your intelligence,” said manager Buck Showalter.

“He brings something we’re in need of. It’s not very often that you get a guy at this age with some good seasons behind him and good seasons ahead of him. He’s got a chance to be a quality pitcher for us for a long period of time.

“A lot of guys at this stage of their careers start figuring it out. I’m very confident that he’s going to give us some quality innings.”

The Orioles will surrender the 17th overall pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft after signing Jimenez, who was 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA in 32 starts for the Indians last season.

Jimenez is 82-75 with a 3.92 ERA in eight major league seasons. He posted ERAs of 5.10 and 5.40 with the Indians before lowering it substantially last season.

The Orioles could slot him directly behind Chris Tillman in the rotation or hand him the ball on opening day.

This is the largest deal that the Orioles have given a free agent since signing shortstop Miguel Tejada for $72 million over six years back in December 2003.

Jimenez’s deal is the largest handed out by the Orioles to a free agent pitcher from outside the organization. They gave Scott Erickson a five-year extension worth $32 million prior to the 1999 season.

The Orioles selected Hendriks off waivers from the Cubs on Dec. 23. Ten days earlier, the Cubs selected him off waivers from the Twins.

Update: The press conference is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Thursday and will be carried live on MASN HD.

Here’s more on Jimenez from the press release issued this afternoon:

Among pitchers with at least 1,000 innings pitched since 2008, Jimenez ranks 6th in all of baseball with 0.7 HR/9.0 IP, tied for 7th with 195 starts, and 8th with a 1.57 GB/FB ratio, 61.1 ground ball percentage, and 8.35 K/9.0 IP. In that time, Jimenez is one of 10 pitchers to have made 31 or more starts in each season.

In 2013, Jimenez went 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA (182.2IP, 67ER) and ranked among the top 10 in the American League in K/9.0IP (4th, 9.56, a new career-high), average against with RISP (6th, .205; 31-for-151), slugging percentage against (8th, .367), road ERA (8th, 2.95), strikeouts (9th, 194) and ERA (10th, 3.30). He was named AL Pitcher of the Month for September, his 3rd career award and first since May 2010, after going 4-0 with 1.09 ERA (41.0IP, 5ER, 7BB, 51K) in six starts in the season’s final month, helping Cleveland advance to the postseason. Jimenez allowed three earned runs or fewer in each of his final 13 starts to end the season, posting a 1.82 ERA (84.0IP, 17ER, 27BB, 100K) in 12 starts after the All-Star break. His second half ERA was the 2nd-lowest in MLB (Kershaw, LAD, 1.59).

The National League’s starting pitcher in the 2010 All-Star Game, Jimenez finished 3rd in the NL Cy Young balloting that season after going 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA with four complete games. He has posted a 3.54 post-season ERA (28.0IP, 11ER) in five total starts for Colorado in 2007 and 2009. In 2009, Jimenez set a World Baseball Classic record, striking out 10 batters in his lone start (4.0 scoreless IP), March 10 vs. the Netherlands.

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