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Orioles land P Jimenez

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It's been an incredibly slow month or two in Baltimore sports, with literally nothing happening between the Orioles, Ravens and Terps. In fact, it's the slowest period I can remember in quite some time, at least until the past few days.

First, it was the O's signing a free agent pitcher from overseas. Then it was the Ravens agreeing to a contract extension with Terrell Suggs, quickly followed by Ray Rice being arrested at a casino in Atlantic City. Now, the O's have struck again.

The Orioles finally made a big free agent splash, signing pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez to a four-year contract worth $50 million. The team also forfeits its first round pick in the upcoming draft as compensation for signing the free agent pitcher.

Jimenez has had an up and down career but at age 30, is still very much in the prime of it. He was outstanding in the second half of last year, and the Orioles hope that's the pitcher they just signed to a big contract.

It's likely that he will come in and slot behind Chris Tillman as the No. 2 in the rotation. It also means that the status of Suk-Min Yoon, Bud Norris, Brian Matusz and Kevin Gausman as far as the rotation goes is very much in question.

Some speculation has Norris moving to the bullpen, but that seems unlikely given that he was still considered an above-average starter last year.

It's an interesting move for the Orioles because of all the money they are shelling out for a pitcher when they have struggled to try and extend Chris Davis and Matt Wieters and have several highly-touted pitching prospects well on their way to the big leagues.

You can never have enough depth when it comes to the starting rotation, but it's going to get awfully crowded over the next couple of years. Tillman, Jimenez, Miguel Gonzalez and Wei-Yin Chen aren't going anywhere. Dylan Bundy and Gausman are supposed to be the future, and Eduardo Rodriguez, Mike Wright and Hunter Harvey are likely to have an impact at some point. Throw in Norris, Matusz and Yoon and the O's might end up moving some guys to the bullpen or possibly making some trades.

Surrendering the first-round pick also really hurts for a team that doesn't have an unlimited budget. The O's drafted Harvey in the middle of last year's first round and he has quickly vaulted himself up many top prospect lists. Harvey costs literally peanuts in his first few years in the big leagues while Jimenez takes up significant salary that could keep the club from retaining other key players.

There was speculation in the past that the O's would not sign a pitcher past three years, but either that's not true or they made an exception in this case. The commitment in dollars and years is a bit surprising given that Jimenez also has had arm problems in the past. The O's tend to steer clear of pitchers with arm problems and are notorious for their exceedingly tough physical standards.

It will be interesting to see if the O's now go over after Kendrys Morales as their designated hitter. The O's would have to surrender their second round draft pick for Morales, but it's made a bit easier by the fact that they already brought in Jimenez at the cost of their first rounder.



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