The Royals have added a veteran arm to their rotation, announcing on Wednesday that they’ve signed right-hander Jason Hammel to a two-year deal with a mutual option for the 2019 season.
The 34-year-old ACES client will reportedly receive a $16MM guarantee that includes a $5MM salary in 2017, a $9MM salary in 2018 and a $2MM buyout on his option. He can also earn an additional $250K per season for reaching 200 innings pitched.
[Related: Updated Kansas City Royals Depth Chart]
Hammel’s long offseason began when the Cubs allowed him to decide whether he wanted them to exercise his $12MM 2017 option or give him a $2MM buyout. The Cubs ultimately declined the option, already an unusual decision on a reportedly healthy pitcher coming off a solid 3.83 ERA, 7.8 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 season as a back-end starter, and Hammel hit the open market, only to linger there for almost four months. That long period on the market included a change of agencies, from Octagon to ACES.
The $16MM guarantee Hammel will receive over two years has to qualify as a disappointing outcome for him, at least relative to his likely expectations earlier in the offseason. While this offseason was a slow one for starting pitchers in general, Hammel compares favorably to several starters who received similar or greater amounts, either in total contract value or average annual value, including Charlie Morton (two years, $14MM), Bartolo Colon (one year, $12.5MM) and former Royal Edinson Volquez (two years, $22MM).
A fit with the Royals seemingly emerged following the tragic death of Yordano Ventura in a car wreck in the Dominican two weeks ago. Hammel represented the top available starting pitcher on the free agent market at that point. Now he’ll enter a Kansas City rotation picture that will also feature Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Nate Karns, Jason Vargas and Chris Young.
With the exception of an ugly 2013 season in Baltimore, Hammel has generally posted consistently solid results since leaving Colorado in prior to the 2012 campaign — he’s eaten 771 innings in that time, with a slightly-above-average 3.88 ERA to go with 8.0 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9. Those peripheral numbers slipped a bit last season with Chicago, to 7.9 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9, but he was still generally effective, with a 3.83 ERA. He relies heavily on his very good slider, a pitch he threw more frequently (35.1%) than any other qualified starter last season except Michael Pineda, Chris Archer and Ervin Santana.
Hammel turned 34 in September, so his new deal will cover his age-34 and age-35 seasons, with the mutual option covering his age-36 campaign. A large number of Royals (including Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar and Vargas) are eligible for free agency next winter, so Hammel’s addition will help the club bridge the gap between next season and the immediate future beyond it. As Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star tweets, the Royals’ late deals with Hammel and Brandon Moss have sent their payroll north somewhat, although those increases have been offset in part by the departures of Wade Davis and Jarrod Dyson, as well as Duffy’s extension, which reduced the 2017 salary he would have received through the arbitration process.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the agreement (Twitter link). Hammel will receive $16MM guaranteed, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports tweeted the terms, and Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star reported the year-to-year breakdown (via Twitter). MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reported the deal’s incentives (via Twitter).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Wow. Really hoping Yankees would sign him.
Even at that price, he’s basically $12M per year with luxury tax for Yankees. And two years would be one too many for them. They have a window next year–they should take advantage of it
They probably could have signed him , but like going to California, it would have had to be a much better price to cover the loss in taxes by signing in those two states.
It’s not the state taxes that’s the problem. It’s the luxury tax.
Makes sense. He’ll be decent for half the year, and suck the other half, as usual.
Nice, I like this signing. Royals are a good team for Hammel, and the Royals tragically needed to replace Ventura with a similar pitcher.
Definitely a nice fit given the situation but I wouldn’t say Hammel is similar to Ventura.
if he really had no medical issues I am quite surprised that all he could get was 2/16
Agreed. And recent reports suggested his medicals were fine. This looks like a steal to me given what other starters have gotten. Volquez 2/$22 comes to mind.
That was first thing that came to my mind too. http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=pit&lg=all&qual=0&type=8&season=2016&month=0&season1=2016&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=4538,3990
O.M. gosh!!! Shocker. I totally did not see this coming. Wow. I will totally not be able to eat ham for 25 days I am so disappointed Hammel doesn’t play for Cubs. He such a princess he gotta be called a royal. I C how it is.
Congratulations…you just posted the most incomprehensible post of all time on here.
I don’t even know where to start with this. I can’t believe it went downhill after “O.M. Gosh!!!”
Comment section is a cess pool now. Guess the value of the page hits finally broke down their good sense. I dont think there’s any filter now.
Do you have beef with ham? Ham loves you. All ham wants for you is the best.
Wait, is O.M. Gosh a fiction writer? I’m confused.
Poetry, my friend. *sniffles*
Hope he’s the cy young so cubs will be pissed off
Guess you need something to hope for when your team is gonna be awful
Because everyone loves it when cubs fans get pissed off.
Ha you can wish that but don’t hold your breath doing it
Tom Brady is the greatest of all time
Who won the superbowl? Everyone except the players lost because we all have to go to work/school tomorrow morning.
I didnt lose. Am happily retired abd could care less
Has NOTHING to do with the post. Congratulations, you just proved your illiterate
Who’s illiterate now?
Oh the irony
I’m illiterate ok
As I heard a woman say at the employment office, “Don’t you dare call me illiterate! I’ll have you know that Dad married Mom the day before I was born! So there ! “
I have to remember that one. Thanks for the laugh
What other qb has had the commissioner destroy evidence of cheating (spygate)?
I thought the O’s would pursue him but all I heard was people saying he would be a good fit their, never anything from the team. There are still other good free agent pitching options for them to go after though.
well he got the same as Mike Pelfrey unbelievable I think he’s a good option at that price
He is totally worth 1 PELF ($8m) per year.
Hammel did not perform well in the AL as a member of the A’s when he was traded by the Cubs with Samardzija for Addison Russell, Dan Straily and Billy McKinney. Hopefully, that was due to a small sample size and he performs better this time for KC..
Saw this coming miles away. I think this is a good, solid signing for the royals. However I will say I feel the royals may be aging themselves a bit with moss and hammel both approaching their mid-30s. Not by design, I’m sure.
By design to make another run this year. If they arent in it at the deadline….we will very likely see a major fire sale. 2 years isnt much on a contract.
Fire sale? As you’ve clearly stated the Royals don’t have anything to offer so why would any team be interested in a half year loaner?
By fire sale I mean selling off a large number of parts. Better to get something than nothing for Hosmer/Moose/Cain.
I thought this was a good fit, but I’m shocked it actually happened. I never saw KC being willing to pay, and I never saw what they were willing to pay being the high bid.
I’ll be interested to see how the Royals rotation does this year. Is there enough behind Duffy to compete? One thing is certain though, between the seemingly team friendly Duffy extension, getting Hammel pretty cheap and flipping one year of Dyson for several years of a back end guy in Karns, then Ian Kennedy has to have proof that Dayton Moore either cheated on his wife or was an accomplice to murder or something.
The fact that someone says..”is there enough behind Duffy to compete” tells you about the rotation. Duffy is a 3 until he proves he’s a full season starter. But the rotation really hasnt been great and they’ve been AL Champ and World Champ. They have a 3, some 4s and a 5.
Pretty sure anyone with half a brain has seen the rotation of the Royals the past couple years and said to themselves “how the….”. You’re just pointing out the obvious. Glad we can have input from a 2nd grader 🙂
It’s a fair point though. They have been below avg and yet KC has found a way to still be competitive. Given the premium attached to TOR guys these days, getting Hammel was the best shot they have at getting a #3 with upside #2. He’s gotta stay on the field, but they got him for a steal, I’m really surprised the Yankees didn’t push hard for him. Maybe they did, who knows.
I’m excited about this signing as a Royals fan. Hopefully he does well and the Royals can make one last run before we lose a ton of free agents. Also anybody care to speculate who the Royals would trade if they are out of contention by July?
Cain, Moustakas, Hosmer. Maybe even Herrera.
What would someone give for 2 months of hollow Hosmer stats? But my guess is he’s who the Royals try to extend…and it’ll happen on the cheap because he’s only really valuable to KC
He wont be cheap but he wont be too expensive. He’s a Boras client. Boras clients get paid more than they’re owed. I get why y’all hate Hoz and think he’s god awful but his defense stats would lead you to believe he’s one of the best (which he is, as a career). I like Cain when he doesn’t take “routine” plays off and makes an error. Moose, meh. He’s starting to show light but his arm makes his def numbers look worse. Herrera is cheap enough to keep around so I don’t see him going anywhere yet. FYI, there’s teams that have no option at 1B so they’d DIE to have someone like Hoz (you know, someone that can hit around .280, knock a few in, great glove. But hey, like you I know nothing about baseball ; )
Im not sure where you’re getting Hosmers great glove from. He can scoop..thats about it. Yost even admits as much. Boras has been misplaying his hand lately. Hosmer put up like 3.2 WAR in 2014…and is 3.4 career…pretty ugly actually. He’s a second division 1B unless somehow he puts it together. He’s the guy a team like Milwaukee gets to add those hollow stats…that .280avg…
My thing on Hosmer is the degree of perceived value against the actual value. I’m in the KC market…I know this team. The guy for very good reason is a regional celebrity. I remember the 30 year dry spell. I used to pay more to park than to buy a ticket and sit anywhere.
The Royals just have to be absolutely careful to make good baseball decisions and not hand some overpay to a guy who puts up journeyman numbers. It’d have been nice if the system had replaced these guys for the most part. Look at the records and guys like Hosmer and Moose have extremely thin track records. We’re not far removed from Moose being shuttled to Omaha.
16 mill. the pirates couldn’t get him for 16m? bucs need one more veteran arm in a sea of sophomore seasons..
The Bucs were the other club that I thought would be all over Hammel (along w. the Yankees). I’d love to hear the scouting reports from other teams about him.
Amazing what teams are paying for average arms and in this guy’s case, that’s being kind. Glad they passed on him. Now I can count on them going after Masterson Maybe they’ll bring Niese back
I suspect there is some information we aren’t privy to when viewing this signing.
Welcome back to the AL I’m sure that 3.83 era will be on the rise
Is strahm not in the rotation mix?
Contractually speaking picking up a decent SP @8 mil for 2 years to fill a desperate hole is a huge bargain! As they say in Boston WICKED SMAATH:)
Pretty glad. He seemingly did well against the Cards so glad he is out of here haha.
Good for him though. Well deserved deal.
Great pickup. Underrated pickup. The cubs will miss him. I hope that the pitchers the cubs signed are DFA. then they sign Travis wood. Anderson and Deunseng won’t last. Hopefully they release Jay as well. I’d rather have Sam Fuld over Jay. Better fielder. And just as good a hitter.
This is going to be one of the most underrated signings of the offseason. I love Hammel in KC, a perfect place for him.
Only wish my Pirates would have been willing to give him the same deal. This is the kind of signing small-market teams need to make, and plugging him in behind Cole and Taillon and in front of Nova would have been a solid 1-4. Then they could have let Glasnow, Kuhl, and Brault slug it out for the #5 slot. Big miss for the Buccos.
Don’t get this weird lovefest for Hammel. How much better is he than Colby Lewis, who had a better ERA last year despite not pitching to pitchers every night, despite going deeper into games, despite not having the Cubs defense behind him (it was one of the best in the league as far as I know, many of their pitchers had big years in front of it…)?
Lewis had a 122 ERA+, Hammel had a 105.
Lewis had a 1.126 WHIP, Hammel had a 1.206.
I know there are other stats that say Hammel was a bit better, and overall they are pretty comparable, but I don’t get why people were thinking Hammel was worth $45m while Lewis is worth more like $5m. Makes just zero sense to me. Not even like Hammel is at least youngish (not that being a mediocre 30-year-old makes you a whole lot better than being a mediocre 35-year-old, though it does indeed seem to pay better a lot of times.)
Did you look at the ages?