Now that the World Series is over, it’s time to get into the offseason and roster shuffling. Things will move rather quickly, especially for the Chicago Cubs. The first such move affects the 2017 rotation.
The Chicago Cubs announced just moments ago that they have declined the $12 million option on starting pitcher Jason Hammel. This makes Jason Hammel a free agent and the Cubs will owe him a $2 million buyout.
Hammel has had an interesting career with the Cubs. Initially signed in 2014 on a one-year contract, Hammel was traded to the Athletics along with Jeff Samardzija at the deadline. The Cubs got Addison Russell and a few other players in return. Hammel re-signed with the Cubs in 2015. His contract was for two years and $18 million, with a club option for 2017.
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Hammel went 33-22 with a 3.59 ERA in 78 starts during his Cubs career. The 3.59 ERA is almost 1 point lower than his career 4.42 ERA. You can say that Hammel has had success with the Cubs. He did not pitch well in the 2015 playoffs for the Cubs, allowing seven earned runs in just 4.1 innings over two starts. He also has had struggles in the second half of the season.
Hammel was 15-10 with a 3.83 ERA in 30 starts this year for the Cubs, but was left off the playoff roster. The emergence of Kyle Hendricks this season, coupled with his struggles in last year’s playoffs, led to that decision. Hammel was still a big part of the Cubs championship season this year. He was part of one of the best rotations in baseball.
However, according to a press release from Theo Epstein, the Cubs want a young pitcher who can be a part of the rotation beyond 2017. The Cubs traded for Mike Montgomery this July and he did make five starts with the Cubs down the stretch. Right now, he becomes the most obvious candidate to join the rotation. The Cubs, however, will explore other internal and external candidates.
Pitching has always been high on the priority list for the Cubs and it’s a big part of the Cubs success in 2016. Look for pitching to continue to be the focus of the Cubs offseason.