The Rockies announced a series of minor league signings Wednesday, most notably revealing a reunion with right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, a new deal with righty Tim Melville and an agreement with veteran lefty reliever Tim Collins. They’ll all be in Major League camp with the Rockies during Spring Training, as will several other veterans whose signings have been previously reported (e.g. Chris Owings, Drew Butera, Elias Diaz).
It’s been more than two years since the now-36-year-old Jimenez appeared on a Major League mound and nearly a decade since he last donned a Rockies uniform. From 2008-10, Jimenez was a bona fide top-of-the-rotation arm for the Rox, pitching to a combined 3.43 ERA (3.42 FIP) with 8.2 K/9 against 3.9 BB/9 in 638 1/3 innings in Colorado. Given the hitter-friendly nature of Coors Field, Jimenez’s park-adjusted production was 37 percent better than that of a league-average pitcher (by measure of ERA+). Colorado eventually traded him to the Indians for a prospect packaged headlined by Drew Pomeranz.
After a rough year and a half in Cleveland, Jimenez peaked at the perfect time, tossing 182 2/3 innings of 3.30 ERA ball in his walk year with the Indians. He set out into free agency and landed a four-year, $50MM contract that quickly proved to be a misstep for the O’s. Jimenez gave Baltimore one season of league-average innings (184 innings, 4.11 ERA, 100 ERA+ in 2015) but was otherwise one of the least-effective starters in MLB throughout his time there. He hasn’t appeared in the Majors since throwing his final pitch for the Orioles in 2017.
Melville, meanwhile, started seven games for the Rockies just this past season, tallying 33 1/3 frames of 4.86 ERA ball with a 24-to-14 K/BB ratio. The 30-year-old journeyman was signed out of the independent Atlantic League and wound up making a combined 24 starts between Triple-A and the Majors, although his minor league numbers were rather unsightly. In 96 1/3 innings with Triple-A Albuquerque, Melville limped to a 5.42 ERA and yielded an average of 2.2 homers per nine innings pitched.
Collins, also 30, pitched 8 2/3 innings with the Cubs and surrendered three runs on nine hits and three walks with four strikeouts in that short time. His work in Triple-A similarly left plenty to be desired, as he walked 19 batters and served up seven homers in just 31 innings.
It’s of course worth noting that both the Triple-A International League and Pacific Coast League in 2019 were a nightmare for pitchers, as Triple-A hitters teed off on the same juiced ball that led to the massive home run spike we witnessed in the Majors. Collins, in particular, had a sharp Triple-A track record prior to 2019 and was at one point a quality reliever with the Royals (2011-14) before multiple Tommy John surgeries slowed his career.