CLEVELAND (AP) — The Indians made a pitch to Ubaldo Jimenez and protected themselves in case the right-hander leaves town.
The club gave Jimenez a $14.1 million qualifying offer on Monday, which he can consider as he starts to talk with other teams.
Jimenez, who bounced back from a 9-17 record in 2012 to win 13 games this season, has until Nov. 11 at 5 p.m. EST to accept Cleveland's offer. If he signs elsewhere, the Indians would receive an extra pick at the end of the first round in June's amateur draft.
The Indians would love to have the 31-year-old back after he finally emerged as the front-of-the-rotation starter Cleveland thought it was getting when Jimenez was acquired before the trading deadline in 2011. After a slow start this season, Jimenez fine-tuned his delivery, cut down on his walks and went 6-5 with a 1.82 ERA after the All-Star break.
Jimenez was at his best in September, going 4-0 with a 1.09 ERA as the Indians finished the month with a 10-game winning streak and earned a wild-card spot to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007. The Indians needed someone to step up when Justin Masterson was sidelined with a side injury, and it was Jimenez who anchored the pitching staff during the season's crucial stretch.
The Indians stuck with Jimenez when he was struggling, and he has expressed his gratitude to the club and pitching coach Mickey Callaway for working with him. He led the AL in losses in 2012, but rebounded nicely and could be one of the most coveted pitchers on the free-agent market.
Last week, the Indians exercised their $8 million option on Jimenez for next season, but he voided it and became a free agent
The Indians did not extend qualifying offers to any of their other free agents: pitchers Scott Kazmir, Joe Smith, Matt Albers, Rich Hill, outfielder Jason Kubel or catcher Kelly Shoppach.