Let’s grant that there’s pretty much always something to not like about a given free agent. Baseball has a very limited number of truly extraordinary players, and those players seldom become free agents, at least before they start getting old. So any free agent will always have a more optimistic perception, and a more pessimistic perception. But no matter what could be said about other years, it’s felt like there’s been a lot of uncertainty within this year’s free-agent-starting-pitcher class. Teams didn’t know whether they could trust Matt Garza’s elbow. A year ago, Ervin Santana wasn’t good. A year ago, Ubaldo Jimenez wasn’t good. Masahiro Tanaka has never pitched in the States. Hell, the surest thing might be A.J. Burnett, and he’s old, and he just became an actual free agent the other day. For effect, let’s repeat that the surest thing within a given player pool might be A.J. Burnett.
Jimenez is probably the most mysterious out of everybody. He’s been an ace, he’s been a wreck, and he’s been everything in between. He’s not old, but he doesn’t throw like he did when he was young. Statistically, he’s coming off a bounceback season, having posted the same adjusted FIP and the same adjusted xFIP as Zack Greinke. The strikeouts were there, even if the old velocity wasn’t. On the surface, Jimenez and Santana look similar, in that they’re asking suitors to buy in to surprisingly successful 2013s. That makes them kind of difficult to trust. With Jimenez, though, it’s even more difficult. With Jimenez, it isn’t about all of 2013.
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