Chicago Cubs’ Jason Hammel a target of the Toronto Blue Jays


With just over a month until the Major League Baseball trade deadline, the rumor mill is beginning to pick up.

And, as has been the case over the past several seasons, the Chicago Cubs figure to be major players in the trade market as the season approaches its midpoint. According to Boston Globe reporter Nick Cafardo, the market for right-hander Jason Hammel is already growing, with yet another team joining the list of interested suitors.

"The Blue Jays also would be an intriguing team on Price. They need him, but lately they seem to have their sights set more on a midrange starter such as Jason Hammel than Price or the Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija."

Hammel, 31, has pitched well for Chicago this season, going 7-5 with a 2.98 ERA in 16 starts. He’s allowed just 83 hits in 102 2/3 innings of work, proving to be a valuable, stable arm in the middle of the team’s starting rotation. The right-hander is in his first season with the Cubs after spending the past few seasons as a member of the Baltimore Orioles, where he showed signs of life as recently at 2012, when he went 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA. Last year, however, Hammel struggled, pitching to the tune of a 4.97 ERA with Baltimore.

Toronto, currently 45-39, tops in the American League East, is looking to fulfill a promise instilled in the fan base when the front office acquired a great deal of talent, including Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle and Josh Johnson – among others. The club currently leads both the Yankees and Orioles by a mere 1 1/2 games, and adding an arm could help propel this team back to the postseason.

However, they are not the only club interested in Hammel. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Seattle Mariners are interested in both Hammel and fellow right-hander Jeff Samardzija; although the asking price for the Chicago ace would likely include top prospects of Taijuan Walker and James Paxton. Hammel would likely prove to be a more affordable option that would allow Seattle to keep major pieces of its farm system intact, while also adding depth to the middle of the starting rotation.

One downside, according to Heyman, would be the fact that Hammel would be a rental for whichever team picks him up.

"Hammel has been considered, though without speaking directly about that veteran right-hander, Mariners people suggest they aren’t necessarily enamored with rentals."

While Samardzija is obviously one of the more talked-about trade chips in Theo Epstein’s arsenal, Hammel will likely fetch the Cubs a decent haul, similar to that the team received in the Scott Feldman trade of 2013 or the Paul Maholm deal of two years ago.