Chicago Cubs: Hammel’s departure not as amicable as we thought
When the Chicago Cubs chose not to pick up the option on Jason Hammel, it was said to be out of respect. The Cubs wanted to go young and felt the 34-year old would do better with a chance elsewhere. That might have only been half of the truth.
The Chicago Cubs relationship with Jason Hammel seemed to be a good one. After winning the 2016 World Series, the Cubs didn’t pick up his option for next season. It was to be respectful as they wanted to go with a younger, controlled arm over the next few years. Hammel just recently signed a deal with the Kansas City Royals. But just like Aroldis Chapman, Hammel didn’t want to play as nice once he was out of Chicago.
There was never a secret that Hammel didn’t at times agree with Joe Maddon‘s decision to take him out of games early. In his defense, Maddon also pulled Kyle Hendricks before he could get through the order a third time. But Hammel often let his feelings be known, even having a closed door meeting with Maddon after a quick hook in August.
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Putting on a happy face in public
The two seemed to resolve their differences–or at least keep them hidden from the public. Hammel won 15 games for the Cubs in 2016 but was left off each playoff roster. It was rumored he had tightness in his pitching arm. Now free of Chicago, it seems to be getting out that Chapman wasn’t the only pitcher unhappy with how he was handled by Maddon. ESPN’s Jesse Rogers had this to say:
"It became obvious — and at times public – that Hammel and his manager didn’t see eye to eye. Maddon pulled the right-hander from several games earlier than the pitcher would have liked. Hammel didn’t make any of the postseason rosters. So after the World Series, the Cubs gave him the choice. He chose to leave, and sources close to the situation say that choice was as much about Maddon as anything else. That can’t come as a big surprise to those who have followed the drama for two seasons."
Where the line falls as to why Hammel was let go, it’s a fact he struggled to put together a solid full season. He and Maddon may have had their issues, but those weren’t the only ones. As strong as Hammel was in the first half, he seemed to fall off in the second. The Cubs may have “hid” the animosity. But there was really no reason for it in the first place. But most of us saw it throughout the last two seasons.
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Still, Hammel was an important piece to the 2016 World Series Champions. Being part of a team that ended a 108-year drought is something that no bit of turmoil can take away from.