The Royals announced that they’ve declined their half of right-hander Jason Hammel’s mutual option, thereby making him a free agent. Hammel will receive a $2MM buyout rather than a $12MM salary for the 2019 season and will hit the open market in search of a new club.
The 36-year-old Hammel’s two-year pact with Kansas City proved to be a sizable misstep for the organization, as the veteran righty limped to a 5.29 ERA in 180 1/3 innings in 2017 before turning in a 6.09 ERA in 127 frames in 2018. Hammel lost his rotation spot in Kansas City this season and finished the year in long relief for a Royals club that finished last in the American League Central.
Prior to his time in Kansas City, though, Hammel enjoyed a solid three-year run with the Athletics and Cubs. From 2014-16, he tallied 513 2/3 innings of 3.68 ERA ball, averaging 8.3 strikeouts and 2.4 walks per nine innings pitched. He saw his strikeout rate deteriorate with the Royals, though, and his ability to strand runners plummeted from roughly league-average territory to one of the worst in baseball with men on base. Those struggles seem likely to make it difficult for his camp to find a guaranteed role on a staff in 2019, but he’ll presumably still be viewed as a low-cost depth option by a number of teams.