Tag: Jason Hammel

Jason Hammel’s Contract Option Declined by Cubs: Latest Details and Reaction

The Chicago Cubs announced they will not pick up starting pitcher Jason Hammel‘s contract option Sunday.

Hammel’s 2017 option was worth $12 million, according to Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago. The deal included a $2 million buyout, per Spotrac.

Hammel is coming off a season in which he won a career-high 15 games as Chicago’s No. 5 starter behind Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks and John Lackey.

Despite his 15-10 record, elbow issues ensured Hammel was the odd man out of the rotation in the postseason as the Cubs went with a four-man group that helped them win the World Series.

The elbow problems might have played a part as his ERA rose late in the campaign.

After a seven-inning, two-hit shutout against the Milwaukee Brewers on Aug. 16, Hammel’s ERA sank to 2.75. But in his final seven starts, he allowed 30 earned runs on 47 hits as his ERA rose to 3.83.

The 34-year-old vowed to come back stronger in 2017, per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune: “I’m not happy with the way things ended, but for nine-tenths of the season, I was very good. I’ll take that into the offseason once the playoffs are done and add on to what I added to this (past) offseason.”

Hammel now has an opportunity to join a pitching staff that will view him as more than a No. 5 starter. However, he won’t be supported by the Cubs’ powerful lineup.

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Oakland A’s 2014 Futures Game Prospect: Scouting Report for Renato Nunez

Four days ago, the Oakland A’s threw all their chips into a 2014 World Series title run when they acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Chicago Cubs. The A’s paid a hefty price to reel in two of the most prized free-agent arms. Shortstop Addison Russell—the A’s top prospect and the No. 12 overall prospect in the MLB—and outfielder Billy McKinney—the A’s No. 2 prospect—were sent to the Cubs farm system, which is now overflowing with talent.

In the wake of this latest move by the A’s, it seems a bit anticlimactic to utter the word “future” when talking about this ballclub. After all, giving up prized minor-league talent for quick-fixes shows that 2014 is the team’s focus. With the best record in the majors at 56-33, who could blame them?

But with the onset of the 16th annual SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game and Stockton Ports (the A’s Single-A affiliate) third baseman Renato Nunez earning a second consecutive selection, it is important to understand that all is not lost for the A’s minor league system.

The 20-year-old Nunez was scorching hot right before he was selected to the World All-Star team and then proceeded to justify his selection by continuing to obliterate Single-A pitching.

Over the past three weeks (a span of 20 games), Nunez has launched 11 home runs and gapped five doubles, culminating in an absurd .408/.489/.908 triple slash line. Nearly every Rotoworld update on him simply states that he had another multi-homerun game or another pedestrian four-hit game. Just past the midway point in his second full season, Nunez has 20 home runs, 57 RBI and a .287 batting average.

Nunez was signed out of Venezuela in 2010 and is currently in the Class A-Advanced California League. With the departure of Russell, Nunez has jumped to the No. 4 prospect in the A’s organization, and if he continues to swing a white-hot bat, he will likely be promoted to the Double-A Texas League in the near future.  

The A’s project Nunez to reach the big leagues by 2016, according to their official scouting report. Though his arm is above average (rated a 55 on a scale of 80), Nunez will likely be converted into a first baseman, since his footwork and hands will eventually become a liability at the hot corner.

Judge for yourself after watching this video.

The A’s organization once worried about Nunez’s patience at the plate, as the 6’1″, 185-pound right-handed hitter has a track record of striking out because of an overly aggressive approach. However, in the span of a year, Nunez has decreased his strikeout rate from 25.0 percent in 2013 to 19.8 percent in 2014 and has increased his walk rate from 5.1 percent in 2013 to 7.4 percent in 2014.

Players from all full-season minor leagues were eligible for an All-Star selection. Nunez was the lone member from the A’s organization who was chosen.

But to reiterate a point, Nunez is the A’s No. 4 prospect.

This means that the organization rates three players better and more advanced than a two-time minor league All-Star, who ranks second in the California League in home runs, ninth in RBI and ninth in slugging percentage.

So when second-guessing the A’s decision to part with their two top prospects in Russell and McKinney in order to maximize their chances at a title run this year, just remember that Renato Nunez and company are blazing a hot trail to O.co Coliseum.

Here is a video of Nunez hitting some bombs in last year’s minor league home run derby to help with that.


Follow Jacob Garcia on Twitter @Jake_M_Garcia or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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Winners and Losers of Cubs-A’s Blockbuster Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel Trade

Chicago general manager Jed Hoyer and his counterpart in Oakland, Billy Beane, proved on Friday night that fireworks on the Fourth of July don’t only explode overhead, completing a massive six-player swap that has wide-sweeping ramifications on the playoff picture in both leagues.

The first-place Athletics strengthened their rotation by adding two of the best pitchers available, Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija, while the rebuilding Cubs landed a trio of youngsters—shortstop Addison Russell, outfielder Billy McKinney and starting pitcher Dan Straily (along with a player to be named later)—to build a future contender around.

It’s a deal that, on paper, seems to benefit both clubs. While it will be a few years before we can truly grasp which club came out on top, it’s never too early to take a look at the immediate winners and losers in the aftermath of the first major trade of the regular season.

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MLB-Best Oakland A’s Prove They Are Going for It All in 2014

The Oakland A’s made fireworks with a blockbuster trade to land both Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel on the Fourth of July, according to ESPN insider Keith Law, giving up Addison Russell, Billy McKinney, Dan Straily and a player to be named later.

With it, they made one thing abundantly clear to the rest of baseball: The A’s are going for it all right now, and they are your 2014 World Series favorites.

This team already had MLB’s best record (53-33) and the American League’s best rotation before acquiring a dominant duo from the north side of Chicago. Oakland now has nothing short of an embarrassment of riches.

But let’s be honest—we’ve seen this all before. The A’s have always had arms for days, seemingly cornering the market in young, prized mound artists. What makes this the team that can finally break the playoff failures the franchise has seen during the Billy Beane run?

In a word: offense. Oakland is leading all of baseball with 430 runs scored and has a powerful trio of Brandon Moss, Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes leading the charge with a combined 51 home runs and 178 runs batted in before the All-Star break.

Throw in 72 more RBI from the remarkable catching trio of Derek Norris, John Jaso and Stephen Vogt, and you have a team that can shut you out and put up crooked numbers all over the scoreboard.

There is one key element of this trade that needs to be discussed, however.

In the deal, the A’s sacrificed one of baseball’s best prospects in Addison Russell, a shortstop soon to be ranked No. 6 in Baseball Prospectus’ next top-50 list (per BP’s own Jason Parks):

This would be fine and dandy if Samardzija were a legitimate piece of Oakland’s future. The reality is, the ace pitcher will sprint away from the Bay Area for a $100 million contract in a little more than a year while the A’s sit back and look to execute their next move.

Hammel is a free agent following the 2014 season as well, so this smells very much like a bold rental to push for a World Series title that has suddenly fallen right into their laps.

A feel-good story for one of MLB’s most beloved underdogs has transformed into a Yankees-like championship-or-bust mentality, something this franchise is certainly not used to. A mediocre landscape of teams across the American League should give the A’s confidence, but the overhanging pressure of a bull’s-eye on their backs will be quite the hurdle to overcome.

If 2014’s bright hopes end in failure, Oakland will be just fine. The team will let Hammel walk and replace him with what it hopes is the Jarrod Parker of old—and we have no reason to believe he won’t be, even after undergoing his second Tommy John surgery.

And if all goes to hell, Billy Beane will simply hop on the telephone and trade Samardzija away to replenish the pieces he sacrificed to acquire him in the first place. The Matt Holliday experiment in 2009 provides a clear precedent there. (He was traded to St. Louis for Brett Wallace, Clayton Mortensen and Shane Peterson after appearing in 93 games with Oakland after signing on as a free agent.)

The benefit of acquiring a coveted pitching asset whose arm has very little mileage on it is that MLB teams will be no less desperate for his services a year from now. Samardzija can be flat-out nasty, and his body type and limited wear and tear should keep him healthy.

The A’s have identified a rare opportunity to break their 25-year title drought, and they just made the deal they had to make to build a proper postseason-ready rotation.

Some will question the forfeiture of such a dynamic prospect for what essentially amounts to a one-year rental, but it’s a rental that makes the difference between contender and clear-cut favorite in the American League, and that’s always a deal worth making.

These are not the A’s of 2002, when a 103-win team was just ninth in MLB in runs scored during the height of the steroid era. This team can mash, and it also has as deep a bullpen as anyone in the sport.

The A’s are making a stand and going for it all in 2014. When you put the pieces together, it looks like they just might succeed.

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Three Bold Predictions for the Remainder of the Yankees Season

The saying in baseball goes, “It, the season, is a marathon, not a sprint.”

It’s nearly impossible to predict what will happen over the course of a major league season. Teams slump, players get injured, and the improbable and impossible are always right around the corner.

With that said, it’s fun to look into the future, especially when it’s the future of a team with as much potential as the New York Yankees. So, with that said, here are three bold predictions for the remainder of the Bronx Bombers’ season. 


All stats were obtained via Baseball-Reference.com.


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Report: 5 Teams Interested in Jason Hammel, Rangers Should Not Be One

According to this tweet by Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish, five major league teams are reportedly interested in free-agent starting pitcher Jason Hammel:

The Texas Rangers should not be one of those five. While Hammel might seem like a low-risk, high-reward arm to many teams, he would not be a fit in Arlington.

Over the last week, I’ve cycled through most of the available starters on the market and made cases as to why each one would fit with the Rangers rotation while Derek Holland recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery. Most of the ones I’ve discussed—Ervin Santana, Bronson Arroyo, Bruce Chen and possibly A.J. Burnett—have strong cases as potentially nice fits. 

Hammel, 31, is a guy who needs to be addressed specifically, as well—but for why he won’t fit or succeed in Arlington. But as always, I’ll start off with what he does well.

Hammel has been able to keep the ball in the yard pretty well over his career. Between 2009 and 2011 pitching with the Colorado Rockies, Hammel averaged 174 innings pitched while allowing an average of just 18.6 homers per season in that span.

It should be noted that pitching at Coors Field is no easy task, and Hammel was able to keep the ball down more often than not. Last year with the Baltimore Orioles, he surrendered 22 homers in just 139.1 innings. With a workload closer to his Colorado averages, Hammel would have ended up allowing around 30 homers in 2013. 

But 2013 does seem to be an outlier when you take a look at his lifetime numbers in the home run department.

Mechanically, he relies heavily on his sinking fastball, which induces a high number of ground balls. The Rangers figure to have one of baseball’s premier defenses this season, and that would certainly benefit Hammel.

He’d be able to trust his stuff a little more knowing the guys behind him can make plays and get him out of jams.

His control is just on par with the rest of the league. His career average for walks per nine innings is 3.1. That’s decent, but you’d like it to be a little lower in the American League.

Finally, Hammel is a large man at 6’6″ and 225 pounds. He can be an intimidating presence on the mound and has velocity in the low-to-mid 90s, accompanied by a big 12-to-6 curve ball and a sharp-breaking slider. 

But here is why the Rangers should turn away from him. 

First, his asking price. ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted this on December 9:

I haven’t seen any definitive updates on what Hammel is asking for now, but that doesn’t sound too good off the bat for the Rangers, or really for any club.

What is particularly scary is the difference and glaring inconsistency between his 2012 and 2013 seasons with Baltimore. Despite only making three more starts in 2013 than he did in 2012, Hammel‘s ERA jumped from 3.43 to 4.97, his strikeout rate per nine innings dropped from 8.6 to 6.2 and his strikeout-to-walk ratio plummeted from 2.69 to 2.00. 

Outside of his 2012 season with the Orioles, which was considered to be a breakout for him, Hammel has never finished a season with an ERA under 4.33. Much of his career workload was spent in the National League, even if it was in Colorado’s launching pad. 

Over his career, Hammel hasn’t fared well against lefties or righties. Lefties have hit .281 off him, while righties have batted .278. Those numbers aren’t due to improve much pitching at Rangers Ballpark. 

He also has a recent injury history that is an immediate cause for concern. Discomfort in his pitching arm as well as flexor strains in his lower back caused Hammel to miss significant time over the last two seasons with Baltimore. 

The Rangers can find better value in another starting pitcher on the market. Between Hammel‘s injuries over the last couple seasons, his reported asking price and lackluster career averages, Texas should stay away despite any feelings that he might be worth a gamble.

He’s definitely not worth a three-year gamble.

Unless Hammel can be signed to a one-year deal in the range of $6 million to $8 million with a possible team option for a second year, Texas should turn its attention to guys who will provide greater benefits to its rotation. 


All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.

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6 Hidden Free-Agent Gems That Are Being Overlooked for 2014

The main focus of the MLB offseason will soon turn to Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka, who will be posted by the Rakuten Golden Eagles, and free-agent starters Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana, who are all still on the board.

While most interested teams have been waiting to see how the Tanaka situation unfolds, top free-agent hitters Nelson Cruz and Stephen Drew are also still available, along with closers Grant Balfour and Fernando Rodney.

Aside from those players, there aren’t many available on the free-agent market who are expected to make a significant impact on a big league roster. That doesn’t mean there aren’t those who could fill an integral role and help a team in some way, even if it’s at the back of the rotation or off of the bench.

In July, contending teams will be looking for these types of players, who can be had now at a likely bargain rate. 

Here are six such free agents who are still available. 

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2014 MLB Free Agency: Best Bargains Still Available on the Market

Of the free-agent signings thus far, there are certainly a couple that could turn out to be bargains. If Josh Johnson (San Diego Padres) and Chris Young (New York Mets) return to form, they’ll be well worth the one-year deals at the cost of $8 million and $7.25 million, respectively.

Same for David Murphy, who signed a two-year, $12 million deal with the Cleveland Indians, and LaTroy Hawkins, who will cost the Colorado Rockies no more than $2.5 million to at least start the season as their closer.

Here are five more potential bargains still available on the free-agent market. 

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Why Baltimore Orioles Rotation Must Shine in 2013

The starting rotation war between pitchers for the Baltimore Orioles will be one of the most intriguing storylines to watch come spring training.  

In this dynamic arms race, no lead will be safe.

It will feature possibly 13 pitchers who will fight for the right to take to the hill for the Birds every five days this summer.

Yes. I said it. 13.

There is Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen and Chris Tillman. These gents combined for a 29-20 record with a 3.61 ERA in 2012.  

But do not tell that to Miguel Gonzalez, Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta and Steve Johnson. These hurlers have the ability to pitch well at the major league level, though Gonzalez and Johnson have shown the most consistency in this bunch.   

Tommy Hunter is also in the mix. As is rookie phenom Dylan Bundy, who has the talent to throw a huge wrench into the plans of the aforesaid. 

Then there is Rule five pick T.J. McFarland, and the all-but-forgotten Tsuyoshi Wada.

According to Sporting News, this left-handed Japanese import may be ready to compete for a spot in Baltimore’s starting rotation this spring.

Do not let off the accelerator. Per MASN’s Roch Kubatko, the Orioles are also still interested in re-signing lefty Joe Saunders…for the right price.

If this is not head-spinning enough, Baltimore and Detroit have been in contact about a potential trade for Tigers’ starter Rick Porcello (according to Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun).

There will be little room to breathe. 

The five Baltimore starters that emerge from this fog of war will be instantly deployed into a combat zone that is the AL East…a zone that includes serious talent, muscle and hustle (and in the New York Yankees case, age and experience).  

In this environment, Hammel and Co. will have to carry this team with enough skill to support an Orioles offense that, while flexible, is unpredictable (and sometimes anemic).

Fresh off a (.247) team batting average in 2012, the Birds have yet to acquire a game changing bat that can hit for average.

This is not to say a lineup that includes Nate McLouth, Nick Markakis, (a healthy) Brian Roberts, Adam Jones, Chris Davis,  Matt Wieters, J.J. Hardy, Manny Machado, and (add DH here) cannot scrap enough runs together help this team win.  

But while the Birds have potential to pound the ball hard in any given game, it is difficult to envision (at this point), this team doing this nearly every night.

This is why it is critical the Orioles get its rotation in order early and often in 2013. Unlike the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore does not have the luxury of squandering runs and still finding consistent victory.

In a super competitive AL East, there is very little wiggle room for long losing streaks this season. 

Baltimore can do it. They have the depth. But every starter must be spot on nearly every night.

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Fantasy Baseball: Are You Hot on Hammel?

No, I didn’t misspell Cole Hamels’ name. Although, if you only looked at their numbers, it would be hard to tell them apart.

Hamels is 3-1 with a 2.73 ERA, a 1.03 WHIP and 30 strikeouts in 26 1/3 innings. Baltimore’s Jason Hammel is 3-0 with a 1.73 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP and 25 Ks in 26 innings.

Not bad for a 29-year-old journeyman with a career ERA of 4.88 and a WHIP of 1.45.

He got off on the right foot holding the Minnesota Twins to one run on two hits over eight innings in his season debut. The Twins struggled out of the gate, but he has since quieted the Toronto Blue Jays bats twice. He also held the Chicago White Sox to two runs over six innings.

Hammel has yet to allow more than two runs or six hits in a game this year. He has walked eight batters, but his .194 BAA and 85.4 percent strand rate has kept the big innings away.

Hammel is owned in less than a third of fantasy leagues. He has extra value in Yahoo! leagues because you can plug him in the RP slot. If you punted saves or injuries depleted your bullpen, you can stock up on wins and strikeouts by using starters with RP eligibility in those slots.

He is slated to make two starts next week, but I would hold out on adding him. He will first take on the New York Yankees in the Bronx and follow that up with a trip to Fenway. If he can escape from those two starts unscathed, the bandwagon will fill up quick.

If you go by the numbers, he is in for a regression. His K/9 of 8.65 is significantly up from his 6.33 career mark. Same with the strand rate (career 68.7 percent) and ground ball rate (61.8 vs. 45.5 percent).

His HR/FB rate is significantly down (6.3 vs. 10.5 percent), and some of that could be escaping Coors Field, but his BABIP is also down big (.254 vs. .313).

I would not add Hammel right now, but I would definitely monitor him.

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