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Red Sox deny 'strong run' at free agent Ubaldo Jimenez

It's a little weird that they even need to deny it, though, considering their situation.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles have signed free agent starter Ubaldo Jimenez to a four-year, $50 million contract, sacrificing a draft pick but adding some much-needed upside to a rotation lacking it. One thing that might have pushed them to complete this deal was the interest of the O's division rivals, the Red Sox and Blue Jays, two teams whom Baltimore believed made "strong runs" at Jimenez. Except, according to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the Sox and Jays had no such interest in Jimenez.

Who knows how the Orioles came to this conclusion? It's possible that Ubaldo's agent fed the Orioles some mystery team-esque clues, and Baltimore believed they pointed to the Sox and Jays. It's also entirely believable that both clubs could have leaked false information in order to help drive up the price of a free agent who was still available in mid-February, with spring training camps already open. While it's difficult to outright prove the Jays weren't in on Ubaldo -- they're supposedly in the hunt for a starting pitcher, have been linked to Jimenez for large chunks of the winter, and could end up paying even more for Ervin Santana in the coming weeks -- there is little chance the Sox are fibbing now.

Boston's rotation is stacked at present, with Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Jake Peavy, and Felix Doubront under contract for 2014. Lester could be back on an extension following this season, while the Sox have Buchholz, Lackey, and Doubront signed for 2015 already. Peavy might be the only departing party of the bunch, but it won't be for until next off-season, and the probability that one of the four starting pitching prospects at Triple-A right now will be ready for the rotation by the time Peavy's spot needs to be filled is high -- one of them might even be ready now, but there's just no space for them at the moment.

Losing Dempster cut into Boston's depth, and yes, they've known about his decision (or, at least, the possibility of his decision) since well before spring training began, but he was also the long man and sixth starter: making a run at Ubaldo Jimenez, who cost the Orioles years, dollars, and a compensatory draft pick, would be a completely illogical overreaction to losing a depth piece. While Jimenez has upside, the Red Sox are not in a situation where they need to take a risk on a pitcher like him to acquire it: the entire purpose of collecting the pitching depth they currently possess was to avoid pitchers like Ubaldo and their costs.

It's difficult to believe that the Red Sox ever went on a "strong run" for Jimenez -- they certainly could have checked in at some point, as they do with basically every free agent -- leading us to wonder how the Orioles came to the opposite conclusion.


Update 9:48 am: The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo says that Ubaldo Jimenez's agents were the ones making the strong push to the Sox, one that was not reciprocated. That leads one to believe that Ubaldo's representatives might have left out the part about the interest being one-sided while discussing details with Baltimore.

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