Hammel’s agency switch comes at a time when he’s clearly among the best starters remaining on the open market. The 34-year-old became available Nov. 6, when the World Series champion Cubs surprisingly declined his $12MM option for 2017 in favor of a $2MM buyout. Hammel surely would have had value as a trade chip, but Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein decided to give the 11-year veteran a chance to cash in as a free agent.
Hammel has had two stints with the Cubs, the first of which lasted for part of the 2014 season and ended when they traded him and fellow righty Jeff Samardzija to the Athletics that July in exchange for shortstop Addison Russell, who’s now a franchise cornerstone. Hammel, who was also previously with the Rays, Rockies and Orioles, then rejoined the Cubs the next winter on a three-year, $30MM pact. Thanks to Chicago’s decision to buy him out, Hammel ultimately collected $20MM of that sum.
Over the past three seasons, including his short stint in Oakland, Hammel has recorded a 3.68 ERA, 8.3 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and 40 percent ground-ball rate over 513 2/3 innings. Hammel logged a 3.83 ERA with 7.78 K/9, 2.86 BB/9 and a 42.1 grounder mark in 166 2/3 frames in 2016. He also posted a double-digit swinging-strike rate (10.2 percent) for the second straight year and maintained his typical velocity. However, late-season elbow tightness helped lead the Cubs to keep Hammel off their roster for all three of their playoff series.
There are no indications that Hammel’s elbow will be an issue going forward, though, and several teams have shown interest in him this offseason. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes predicts a three-year, $42MM deal for the potential ACES client. MLBTR will include Hammel’s defection from Octagon in its Agency Database, which contains agent information on more than 2,500 major league and minor league players. If you see any notable errors or omissions, please let us know via email: [email protected].