Let’s take a look in at the latest on the pitching market:
- MLB Network’s Peter Gammons tweets that one Cubs official to whom he recently spoke believes that many teams around the league assumed Jason Hammel was injured when Chicago surprisingly decided to decline his seemingly reasonable $12MM club option. That’s not the case, however, per Gammons, who notes that Hammel is in good health. It’s been a surprisingly slow market for the 34-year-old Hammel, who looks to be the top remaining starter on the open market. The 2016 season saw Hammel toss 166 2/3 innings with a 3.83 ERA, 7.8 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 42.1 percent ground-ball rate. Over the past three seasons, Hammel sports a 3.68 ERA, 8.3 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 40 percent grounder rate. Hammel did see his strikeout and walk rates trend in the wrong direction last year, which contributed to a 4.48 FIP, 4.34 xFIP and 4.28 SIERA that are among his worst marks since establishing himself as a big league starter.
- Despite adding lefty J.P. Howell, the Blue Jays are still looking for another pen arm, per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca (via Twitter). It doesn’t seem as if there’s a clear preference between a righty and a lefty, as the club is said to be exploring both varieties of pitchers.
- Likewise, Royals GM Dayton Moore says that his club still intends to add another arm, though it’s not clear specifically whether it’ll be for a starter or reliever, as Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com was among those to tweet. Either the trade or the free agent market could hold the missing piece, the GM noted.
- The Mets and left-hander Jerry Blevins “have been exchanging concepts” for some time now, writes ESPN’s Buster Olney, but the Mets have only proposed one-year scenarios to this point. Blevins is known to be seeking a multi-year pact and seemingly has a realistic shot of obtaining one. Payroll has reportedly been an issue for the Mets — their current projection of $146MM would be their second-highest Opening Day mark ever — though the New York Post reported yesterday that the Mets are open to pursuing a back-loaded deal, which could serve as a compromise of sorts.
- Similarly, Olney notes that the Dodgers were very pleased with Joe Blanton last summer but have limited interest at this time after spending a combined $192MM to retain the trio of Kenley Jansen, Justin Turner and Rich Hill. Los Angeles is open to adding a reliever, but there have been rumors that they’re focused on one-year deals, and Olney’s mention of them does little to dispel that notion.
- While there’s some uncertainty as to which left-handers will be working out of the Braves’ bullpen in 2017, Atlanta hasn’t expressed much interest in free agents such as Blevins, Javier Lopez, Boone Logan, Travis Wood and Chris Capuano, per David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The Braves feel that those options are either too expensive or not definitive enough upgrades to sign. Ian Krol and Paco Rodriguez (if healthy) are likely to see significant work in the Atlanta relief corps this season, per O’Brien, who also runs down a number of other internal options.
- Right-hander David Aardsma is slated to throw for interested teams tomorrow in hopes of landing an invite to Major League Spring Training somewhere. The 35-year-old last pitched in the Majors back in 2015, tossing 30 2/3 innings with the Braves and registering a 4.70 ERA. Aardsma has added about 20 pounds while following an Olympic weightlifting program in hopes of boosting his velocity. He struggled through a brief showing with Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate last season but turned in strong minor league results in 2014-15.