When the Cubs traded Jason Hammel to the A’s, Hammel made it clear that he’d enjoyed his time in Chicago and would be open to returning. He wasn’t kidding, apparently, he’s reportedly reached a deal to return to Chicago. According to Chris Cotillo, the deal is in the range of $18 million over two years with a likely team option.
That price would put him a little under what the average-ish veteran starter got last winter. Tim Hudson, Bronson Arroyo, Bartolo Colon all landed deals in excess of 2/$20M, while Scott Feldman got 3/$30M from the Astros. The crowdsourcing project and and I both expected Hammel to get something close to Feldman’s deal, but he ended up settling for a little less than the older pitchers got a year ago.
At 32, Hammel doesn’t have a ton of upside, but he’s essentially the definition of a league average starter. If he can give the Cubs 350-400 average-ish innings over the next two years, he’ll easily be worth the $18 million. There’s value in having solid arms at the back of your rotation, especially when they come at a bit of a discount.
As everyone assumes that the Cubs will add a front-line starter this offseason as well, this move could push Travis Wood out of the rotation, or potentially make him a chip to be used in a trade. If they add Jon Lester to the fold, a rotation of Lester, Jake Arrieta, Hammel, Kyle Hendricks, and either Edwin Jackson or Tsuyoshi Wada would be pretty interesting.
The signing of Hammel won’t draw big headlines, but it’s a nice depth signing for the Cubs, and pushes them closer towards contending in 2015. For the price he apparently gave them, it’s hard to argue with this deal from the Cubs perspective.
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Hendricks as the 4 would be rough, to say nothing of Jackson/Wada at the end. Obviously they don’t have to go from six to midnight in one year here, but if they’re going to live up to increasingly high expectations I’d need to see Hendricks et al in the mix for 5 with another genuine arm in the rotation.
Do you think a team with Hammel at number 3 could contend for a wildcard? Your answer would be “Well, depends on how the offense looks.” Cubs could definitely do it.
I do agree though: it’s hard to reconcile “legitimate World Series contender” and “Jason Hammel, Number 3 Starter”. If the expectations are that high inside the organisation, you’d have to imagine another arm would have to be a priority for the FO.
Sure, why not? The teams that just won the wild card this year didn’t exactly have awesome starting pitching staffs (no slight intended to the Royals, and I’m not sure the Giants even had a pitching staff during the regular season, by WAR anyway).
Of course, the Giants just won the World Series with Ryan Vogelsong as their #3, so it’s obviously not a prerequisite to have a quality #3 to win the World Series. You just need wins, and they can come from anywhere on the field. If all the young position players were to hit their 90th percentile projections, the starting rotation wouldn’t need to be all that great.