With the dreaded July 31 trade deadline rapidly approaching, the Cubs face another fire sale on the near horizon. The deadline these past few years have been terrific for the Cubs, while at the same time causing fans to wonder when the front office is going to stop trading 40 percent of the rotation year after year.
The Theo Epstein-led front office has hit it big these past few deadlines, capitalizing on Paul Maholm and Scott Feldman‘s big seasons to acquire talent such as Jake Arrieta and Arodys Vizcaino. And that only includes a couple of the sign-and-trade guys of the Epstein regime, leaving out the profits made after deals like the Matt Garza robbery.
The Cubs hit it big once again in 2014, of course, banking on a terrific first half from Jason Hammel and being rewarded handsomely. Hammel has outpitched Feldman, the man who netted the Cubs a reclamation project in Arrieta, with an ERA/FIP/xFIP line of 2.99/3.06/3.28. Feldman’s at the time of the deal? 3.46/3.93/3.83.
Hammel could net the Cubs a talented player or two, with a possible return of Major League ready pitcher(s), like the Arrieta return, and will likely exceed the Feldman deal.
Expect a deal fairly soon with Hammel, which could very likely fall around the date of the Feldman trade, July 2, the same day the international signing period begins. I was recently told by a Major League source close to Hammel that “talk is that Hammel will be traded in two weeks”.
This lines up with the start of the International signing period, July 2, and makes terrific sense as the Cubs will undoubtedly want to split up the Hammel and Jeff Samardzija markets (Hammel traded early, Samardzija near the deadline). The Cubs are likely to follow the same pattern as last year, when they dealt Feldman early and Matt Garza much later to maximize the return on the bigger fish, and this year, that “big fish” is Samardzija.
However, as it has been in recent years, with talented pitchers facing free agency being dealt, there’s always the question of “will he resign?” The Cubs faced it with Dempster, Feldman, and even Maholm and Garza. This almost never occurs, even if the connection is there and the fit. It could be that feelings sour after a midseason deal or a combination of things, but it never really happens.
The media always questioned guys like Garza and Feldman, and usually you get a very vague, typical interview response such as, “I love playing here, but we’ll see what happens” kinds of responses.
Hammel, however, was refreshingly frank when talking to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers about the possibility.
“I would assume they are pretty happy with my body of work so far and if a trade happens it happens. But, I guarantee, say I was to go to another team, I love it here. I guarantee they wouldn’t be opposed to bringing me back next year”
Man, is that refreshing. It warms my heart to hear a player so open about his desires, and breaking away from a typical response. You almost never hear of a player talking blatantly about a situation like this, and you have to tip the cap to Hammel. It would be terrific having Hammel in the Cubs’ rotation for the next year or two, and it’s wonderful Hammel and the front office feel the same way.
The same source close to Hammel told me, however, that there haven’t been actual discussions between Hammel and the Cubs pertaining to a contract after the season. Just Hammel voicing his thoughts on the matter. That isn’t to say there’s no chance of it happening, of course, as it’s pretty rare for that type of discussion to occur midseason.
Hammel is going to fetch quite a haul compared to the Feldman deal, and as early July nears, Hammel’s days as a Cub appear numbered – for now.