Jason Hammel Rumors

Central Notes: Chapman, Wong, Weeks, ChiSox, Cubs

On this date 70 years ago, Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis (home to the National League’s Cardinals and the American League’s Browns) became the final MLB stadium to integrate seating for fans. Although there was no official team or municipal policy, African-Americans were restricted to the bleachers before finally being allowed to purchase grandstand tickets.

Here’s today’s news and notes from MLB’s Central divisions:

  • Reds closer Aroldis Chapman is expected to rejoin the club this Friday, if his final two rehab appearances go well, reports MLB.com’s Andy Call. Chapman, who was struck by a line drive during a Spring Training game and needed a three-inch plate and 12 screws to stabilize the bones around his left eye, is scheduled to pitch in back-to-back Triple-A games beginning Tuesday.
  • Last year, the Cardinals sent a highly-touted prospect (Michael Wacha) to the minors after a disappointing start only to become a key player for them late in the season, and they are hoping history repeats itself with Kolten Wong, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  • The Brewers should consider all alternatives when it comes to Rickie Weeks because his offensive struggles and being limited to only playing second base puts pressure on the organization, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Todd Rosiak in a recent reader’s chat.
  • Both Chicago franchises, with the right returns in trades, could accelerate their rebuilding, opines Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Gonzales notes shedding Alexei Ramirez‘s salary would allow the White Sox to address other needs while the Cubs may deal Jason Hammel hoping for results similar to last summer’s flip of Scott Feldman.

Chicago Notes: Abreu, Sox, Cubs, Hammel

Here’s the latest about both Windy City franchises…

  • Jose Abreu “may turn out to be the bargain of the winter,” writes CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.  The White Sox signed Abreu to a six-year, $68MM contract in October that carried some risk given Abreu’s lack of experience in American pro ball, yet the Cuban slugger hasn’t had any trouble adapting.  Abreu is hitting .262/.330/.631 and leads the majors with 10 homers and 31 RBI, the latter mark getting a new Major League record for most RBIs by a rookie in the month of April.  Since the White Sox didn’t outbid other Abreu suitors like the Astros, Red Sox and Rockies by much, these clubs “may be kicking themselves for not kicking in a few more bucks,” Heyman notes.
  • Jason Hammel will be made available for a trade this summer if he stays healthy, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi tweets.  With Hammel pitching well and signed to only a one-year deal, it has been expected that the Cubs will look to move him as they did Scott Feldman last summer.
  • With the Cubs short on pitching, however, could the Northsiders look to sign Hammel to an extension rather than trade him?  Hammel dismissed the subject when talking to reporters (including Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune and Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times), saying it’s “crazy to even bring that up right now. It’s April. It’s still very early….Obviously it would be entertained, but I’m not thinking about that.”  The right-hander did say that he would like to stay in Chicago and that getting an extension “would be an honor.”

Cubs Sign Jason Hammel

The Cubs have officially signed free agent starter Jason Hammel to a one-year, $6MM deal. The 31-year-old Octagon client can earn an additional $1MM in incentives.


After posting a strong 3.43 ERA in 2012 season that was shortened due to knee surgery, Hammel failed to repeat in 2013. Hammel had reached 8.5 K/9 and 53.2% GB% in 2012, both of which represent career highs by a substantial margin.

As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes noted in ranking Hammel 48th on his list of the top fifty free agents, Hammel saw a dive in his strikeout and groundball rates and dealt with elbow issues. He ultimately ended up with a 4.97 ERA over 139 1/3 innings in 2013.

Prior to the long DL stints in his last two seasons, Hammel had registered three straight years with at least 170 innings for the Rockies. Though he averaged only a 4.63 ERA in that period, those figures were likely inflated by pitching at Coors Field. He posted successive FIP (3.71/3.70/4.83), xFIP (3.76/3.66/4.65), and SIERA (3.90/3.79/4.85) marks that paint a more favorable picture.

The Cubs had signed only three players to guaranteed MLB deals before landing Hammel, none of whom are starters. Hammel will presumably fill out the club's 2014 rotation, joining Jeff Samardzija, Edwin Jackson, Travis Wood, and Jake Arrieta to form the regular starting five.

After missing out on Masahiro Tanaka, Chicago had been rumored to be looking to make a value play on a mid-tier starter. WIth recent injury issues holding down his value, Hammel looks to be the same kind of pitcher that the Cubs targeted last year, when they inked Scott Baker (one year, $5.5MM), Scott Feldman (one year, $6MM), and Carlos Villanueva (two years, $10MM). 

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports was first to report the signing on January 31st (via Twitter). Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweeted that the deal was for one year and around $6MM. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweeted the final financial terms. Carrie Muskat of MLB.com first tweeted that the deal was official.

Image courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cubs Notes: Samardzija, Hammel

Jeff Samardzija and the Cubs still haven't come to terms on a contract to avoid arbitration for 2014, with the pitcher filing for $6.2MM and the team countering with $4.4MM. That gap is indicative of broader differences between the two parties about how to structure a long-term deal, Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago writes. Rogers notes that it wouldn't be surprising if Samardzija and the Cubs actually did go to arbitration, and suggests that they could be more than $10MM apart on a potential long-term contract. Here are more notes on the Cubs.

  • One factor in the market for Jason Hammel was that teams were worried about the possibility that his elbow wouldn't hold up, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets. Hammel recently agreed to a one-year, $6MM deal with the Cubs. He missed time due to elbow issues last season.
  • The Cubs' recent pact with Hammel parallels their signing of Scott Feldman last offseason, Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs writes. The best-case scenario for the Cubs is that Hammel pitches well and they trade him to a contender this summer, just as they did last year with Feldman. In order for the Cubs to do so, Hammel will have to stay healthy, but even if he doesn't, the Cubs aren't risking much.

East Notes: Blue Jays, Mets, Phillies, Orioles

Here are some notes from around the game's eastern divisions: 

  • Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos hopes his club can benefit from the qualifying offer system given its array of draft picks, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports. With two protected first rounders, the Jays would stand to lose only a second-round choice by signing a free agent who comes burdened with draft pick compensation. "It's significant," said Anthopoulos. "I think if we had to give up a first round pick, it would changes thngs in a significant manner. I think that's where the draft pick compensation component is impacting some of these clubs." Though he said that "there's still value with the second round pick … and you still build that into an offer," Anthopoulos explained that "it's not close to the value of round one."
  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson says he is "still looking for more players," reports ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin, but emphasized that he likes the club as currently constituted. "I think we've spent the fifth-most of any team in Major League Baseball on free agents this offseason," said Alderson. "And we might do something else before Spring Training starts."
  • Meanwhile, two New York starting pitching options — the recently signed John Lannan and Daisuke Matsuzaka — have opt-out provisions in their contracts, Rubin reports. Lannan has a June 14 date in his deal, while Matsuzaka has the standard Type XX(B) contract (for minor league free agents with six-plus years of service), which includes a June 1 opt-out. 
  • The Phillies should act on their reported interest in free agent starter A.J. Burnett, opines Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. With Roberto Hernandez a puzzling addition and international signee Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez still a "huge wild card," in Zolecki's view, the Phils should go hard for Burnett unless the club really does not believe it is a likely contender.
  • We heard earlier today that the Orioles and Rays are also possible contender's for Burnett's services.
  • The Orioles are interested in bringing back Jason Hammel, but probably are not his likely landing spot since they would not guarantee him a starting role, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Baltimore executive VP Dan Duquette also acknowledged that "it would be nice" if the club could announce a significant addition at the team's fan event on Saturday, but of course emphasized that the event would not sway the decisionmaking.
  • Baltimore announced a pair of international signings: 17-year-old Mexican Carlos Diaz and 16-year-old Dominican Jomar Reyes. As MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli reports (Twitter links), both teenagers are expected to start out in the Gulf Coast League. Duquette said that multiple other clubs were involved, and labeled Diaz and Reyes as "potential everyday major league players that can hit in the middle of the lineup." The indicated said that the two received "substantial" bonuses, Connolly reports on Twitter.

Free Agent Notes: Angels, Phillies, Yankees

Draft pick compensation is hanging over the market for several prominent, unsigned free agents — namely, Ervin SantanaUbaldo JimenezStephen DrewNelson Cruz, and Kendrys Morales. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports looks at the draft pick situations of some of the clubs that might consider adding one of those names. As we finish a quiet Monday, let's round up some notes on free agent rumors from around the league:

  • The Angels do not seem to be operating with much urgency to add a free agent pitcher, tweets Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. If the club does add to its rotation with an open-market contract, says DiGiovanna, it is more likely to go after Jason Hammel or Chris Capuano than Bronson Arroyo or Paul Maholm.
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said today that the club does not have any outstanding offers for guaranteed MLB deals, tweets Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. As MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Tracker shows, Philadelphia has not entered such a pact since inking Roberto Hernandez on December 18.
  • After committing a cool half-billion dollars through free agency (if you count Masahiro Tanaka and his release fee), the Yankees appear to be done adding significant salaries for the offseason, reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. New York seems to be following through on GM Brian Cashman's statements that the club would not pursue Drew, says Martino, and the team is not currently trying to work out a deal to bring Chase Headley over from the Padres.

Pitching Notes: Garza, Arroyo, Buyers, Hammel, Williams, Byrdak

There were no new developments today relating to Matt Garza, who looked to have a deal in place with the Brewers yesterday before an unidentified snag held things up. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel provided some updates from the inside, however, reporting that a source said negotiations were "ongoing." When asked whether there were any new developments, GM Doug Melvin told Haudricourt "nothing yet." 

Here are a few bits of information elsewhere on the current free agent pitching market:

  • Bronson Arroyo and the Dodgers have had discussions since Masahiro Tanaka chose not to sign with Los Angeles, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The level of interest remains uncertain, Heyman notes.
  • The Angels have "a bit" of interest in Arroyo but are also content to take their current group to Spring Training, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The Angels acquired Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs this offseason to join Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Garrett Richards in the rotation.
  • It's been a different type of offseason for the Angels this year, writes MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez, noting the patience and restraint the team has shown on the free agent market. Gonzalez notes that the Angels aren't interested in Matt Garza at the $13MM AAV he would receive in his near-deal with the Brewers, as it would push them up against the luxury tax threshold. He lists Arroyo, Jason Hammel, Chris Capuano, Scott Baker and Paul Maholm as potential rotation options that would leave some cushion between Anaheim's payroll and the luxury tax.
  • With a lot of starters still available on the open market, there are plenty of teams that have yet to fill up their slate of rotation candidates. Joining the O's and Jays among the clubs that are looking for starters are both of Chicago's two franchises, according to Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com (via Twitter). Levine indicates that the Cubs are looking over the list of remaining free agents, but he does not say whether the White Sox have any interest in open-market players.
  • MLB.com's Greg Johns tweets that Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik thinks the team is done making "major" additions, but tweaks are still possible. However, semantics could come into play heavily, as manager Lloyd McClendon said the team would still like to add a No. 3 starter, per ESPN 710's Shannon Drayer (Twitter link). New team president and COO Kevin Mather indicated today that the club would have the financial resources necessary to make more additions before the start of the season.
  • There are five clubs vying for the services of Hammel, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Hammel is expected to choose a landing spot within a week.
  • Swingman Jerome Williams has offers on the table from at least three clubs, Cotillo tweets. He, too, appears to be nearing a decision point.
  • Southpaw reliever Tim Byrdak will not be re-signing with the Mets, the reliever tweeted (via Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com). The 40-year-old indicated that the team decided against signing him.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.


Cubs Looking At Starters, Will Not Re-Sign Scott Baker

After losing out on Masahiro Tanaka, the Cubs remain interested in adding rotation depth, likely in the form of a relatively minor signing, reports Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com. Chicago will not be in the market for one of the top remaining free agent starter, such as former Cubbie Matt Garza, unless a golden opportunity arises.

Neither is the club interested in bringing back Scott Baker, Rogers adds. According to Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (via Twitter), the Mariners and Indians are more likely landing spots for the 32-year-old righty. The Cubs signed Baker to a one-year, $5.5MM deal last year, but Baker was only able to make three starts after a long Tommy John rehab.

Chicago has been linked to other mid-tier starting options, Rogers notes, including Paul Maholm and Jason Hammel. Both pitchers would seem to fit the mold of the club's rotation signings from last year, which included Baker, Scott Feldman (one year, $6MM), and Carlos Villanueva (two years, $10MM). Internal candidates for the club's final rotation spot, according to Rogers, include Justin Grimm, Kyle Hendricks, and Chris Rusin

The Latest On The Orioles’ Pitching Search

Reports yesterday once again connected the Orioles to right-hander Bronson Arroyo, reviving some early offseason linking between the two sides. In his latest piece, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun runs down the list of potential targets for Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette, including Arroyo.

Connolly offers a familiar refrain regarding Arroyo, writing that the right-hander seeks a three-year guarantee. Arroyo has been linked to many clubs to this point, but none has been willing to offer a third guaranteed season to the longtime Reds hurler to this point. Though Arroyo is as durable as any starter in the game, having authored nine consecutive seasons of 199 or more innings, he also turns 37 in February, making such a commitment a risk. Connolly writes that there is a sense that Arroyo would go to Baltimore if guaranteed a third season, and the club is "definitely interested." Duquette and the Orioles have maintained an ongoing dialogue with Arroyo's agent, Terry Bross, Connolly adds.

The Orioles have also had internal discussions about bringing back a familiar face in the form of left-hander Bruce Chen, Connolly reports. Chen's name has scarcely been mentioned to this point in the offseason, but the soft-tossing southpaw is coming off a season in which he posted a 3.27 ERA with 5.8 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 121 innings for the Royals. Of course, Chen also posted an astoundingly low 27.7 percent ground-ball rate in 2013, and his 51.9 percent fly-ball rate was the highest in the Majors for pitchers with at least 100 innings. Clearly, such trends would not bode well for a transition to the hitter-friendly parks of the AL East. LIke Arroyo, Chen will turn 37 this year.

Jason Hammel still doesn't figure to be an option for the O's, though Connolly seems to think the idea is becoming more plausible than it was earlier in the offseason. Both sides enjoyed their time together, he writes.

Names like Masahiro Tanaka, Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez and Matt Garza can all be effectively ruled out, writes Connolly. That's not surprising to hear, given Duquette's earlier statement that the club wouldn't be in the mix for Tanaka and the team's budgetary constraints. Santana, Jimenez and Garza are all likely to sign at least four-year deals, pricing them out of Baltimore's range.

Four Teams Interested In Jason Hammel

Free agent starting pitcher Jason Hammel has had interest from the Cubs, Pirates, Royals and Braves, FOX Sports' Jon Morosi tweets. Hammel posted a 4.97 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 139 1/3 innings in an injury-plagued season for the Orioles last season. Hammel has also recently been connected with the Rockies, Orioles, Indians and other teams.

MLBTR's Tim Dierkes reported yesterday that, while Hammel wouldn't mind a three-year deal, he would prefer a one-year deal over two years. A one-year deal would allow him to build value before seeking a multi-year deal next offseason.