When Jason Hammel was traded along with Jeff Samardzija from the Chicago Cubs to the Oakland A’s, he knew he’d like to come back to the Cubs. In his short time in Chicago, everything seemed to fall into place.
"“I knew this was a place for me and (knew I) would have a very good opportunity,” Jason Hammel said Friday of his return after being traded in July to the A’s. h/t Mark Gonzales, Chicago Tribune"
Both he and Samardzija were happy to give positive reviews of their time there to Jon Lester, who knew he would be a free agent at the end of the season. So they both filled him in on what to expect from the city, and the organization. Thanks to that, Hammel and Lester will continue to be teammates, only now it’s on the North Side.
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When Hammel signed with the Cubs prior to the 2014 season, he wasn’t unaware of the recent history of the Cubs “flipping”pitchers at the trade deadline. His solid start, coupled with another team near the bottom of the standing approaching July made it almost a sure thing. But even after he was traded, Hammel was aware of what the Cubs system, as well as Chris Bosio had done for him.
"“But my (three months) here were the best (three) of my career, and I told (Lester),” Hammel said."
He’s returned to Chicago on a two-year, $20 million deal. But the team he left just six months ago is nothing like the one he returns to.
It’s a reunion in more than one way for Hammel. First he will join Lester again in the rotation. And of course, he will reunite with his Cubs teammates, although some of the faces will be new, as the likes of Arismendy Alcantara, Jorge Soler and Javier Baez made their way up after his departure. But there’s no doubt he’s familiar with them from his time in Chicago.
He also will be joined up with Joe Maddon, who was his manager with the Rays in 2006-’08. All of these combined translates to a last-place team that he left from, to a team that have better odds at the World Series than the St. Louis Cardinals. Yes, the Cardinals. Part of sports betting of course isn’t attributed simply to the players on the field, but the fans, the bettors themselves. The excitement generated by all the Cubs moves have put some fans into a tizzy, but expectations still need to be reeled in.
For Hammel, it was only six months, but it might as well be 107 years.