Jason Hammel has lost his rotation job to Alex White, and now Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports that the right-hander's days in Colorado may be coming to a close. "Hammel’s future with the organization beyond this season is in doubt," Renck writes. "It’s likely the Rockies will attempt to trade him over the winter."
It's quite a drop in stature for Hammel, who signed a two-year, $7.75MM contract with the Rockies in January and looked to be becoming a fixture in Colorado's rotation. He got off to a very solid start this year (a 2.63 ERA after his first six starts) but has struggled since, with his ERA ballooning to 5.24. Hammel has struggled to miss bats, posting a 4.7 K/9 rate that is well below the career 6.6 K/9 he carried into 2011. Hammel's ground ball rate has dropped to 43.7% from the 46.4% rate he posted in 2009-10 and his HR/FB rate is up a full point (to 10.7%) over the previous two seasons as well -- a dangerous bump for a Coors Field pitcher.
Hammel is owed $4.75MM next season and still has a fourth year of arbitration eligibility left as a Super Two before being eligible for free agency after the 2013 season. Given his young age (Hammel turns 29 in September) and his home/road splits (a career 5.17 ERA at Coors), the Rockies would surely find some interested takers for Hammel on the trade market. Still, given the number of question marks in Colorado's 2012 rotation, it's hard to imagine the Rockies wouldn't give Hammel one more try to see if he can stick as a starter.