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.
Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.