Chicago Cubs: Jason Hammel remains unsigned ahead of Spring Training
By Jake Misener
Former Chicago Cubs pitcher Jason Hammel remains unsigned just weeks before Spring Training. Where will the right-hander land?
When the Chicago Cubs’ front office declined to pick up Jason Hammel‘s $12 million option, it was out of respect for their right-hander. They figured he’d easily surpass that AAV on the open market, and with good reason. He was a 15-game winner and made more than 30 starts for the World Champion Cubs.
But with just two weeks until teams report to camp, Hammel is still looking for a new home.
The latest rumors (per Nick Cafado) has connected Hammel to the Kansas City Royals, who are looking to fill the void left by the death of Yordano Ventura.
While Hammel is no Ventura, he makes starts and eats a good chunk of innings. Hammel made at least 30 starts in each of the past two seasons for Chicago, winning 25 games in the process.
More from Chicago Cubs News
- Cubs should keep close eye on non-tender candidate Cody Bellinger
- Cubs starting pitching has been thriving on the North Side
- Make no mistake: the Cubs are very much about power hitters
- Cubs: It’s time to start thinking about potential September call-ups
- Cubs: P.J. Higgins deserves to be in the lineup on a daily basis
Despite his 15 wins last year, he totaled just 166 2/3 innings in 30 starts, but not all of that falls on him. Numerous times, Cubs skipper Joe Maddon seemed to have a very short leash on his right-hander, namely in the second half.
The two butted heads more than once and Hammel was not on the postseason roster for any of the three rounds last year. At first, it was hard to understand why, but when you dove into the numbers, it’s easier to make sense of it all.
His FIP rose by over three-quarters of a run from ’15 to ’16 – from 3.68 to 4.48. Meanwhile, his strikeout-to-walk rate plummeted. For his career, Hammel averages a 2.48 SO/BB mark – much in line with his 2016 2.72 mark. However, in 2015, he far exceeded expectations averaging 4.30 punchouts per walk.
That’s not to say he was a league-leader in that regard, but given Zack Greinke averaged an even 5.00 mark, it’s clear to see why Hammel was so impressive.
The right-hander turns 35 in September and is coming off the best three-year stretch of his career. He and his agent will likely aim for a three-year pact, but a two-year deal seems likely. However, with the pitching market thin as we near spring, there’s always a team that overpays.
Next: Ross lands another job with ESPN
As for Kansas City, the club is looking to rebound after an ultimately disappointing 2016 campaign. The tragic loss of Ventura only adds to the team’s already-existing need to acquire rotation depth. KC, much like the Cubs, have been linked to the Rays’ young arms all offseason. Free agent Doug Fister, an arm comparable to Hammel, is also reported to be of interest.
Other teams to keep an eye on are the New York Yankees, the Chicago White Sox, and the Houston Astros. That being said, Chicago would likely balk at anything more than two years – as would New York. Houston has been linked to available arms all winter and appears ready to contend for a division crown.