The Royals front office has said that they are not satisfied with the team just yet. Dayton Moore has stated that they not only want to add an impact bat, but would be interested in adding another starting pitcher. With the Jason Vargas signing seemingly intended to replace Bruce Chen in the rotation as opposed to replacing Ervin Santana, there is still a possible opening for another top of the rotation arm. With pitchers such as Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez and Matt Garza available, there are certainly options to consider.
Instead, of setting their sights upon one of the better options in free agency, it appears as though the Royals have other plans. It was reported yesterday that the Royals, along with three other teams, have interest in signing former Orioles, Rays and Rockies pitcher Jason Hammel. This is the Royals option to upgrade the rotation?
Over Hammel’s career, he has put together a 49-59 record with a 4.80 ERA, striking out 6.5 batters per nine against 3.1 walks per nine innings. Yes, Hammel played in Colorado, but his numbers were actually better in Colorado than his career marks. In fact, the three years he spent with the Rockies provided thee of the five lowest ERAs that he put together in a season.
Where Jason Hammel becomes interesting is from his 2012 season. After being a generally mediocre starter throughout his career, he put everything together in his first season with the Orioles, going 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA, striking out nearly a batter an inning. However, as he fought through an injury plagued season in 2013, he was unable to replicate that success, going 7-8 with a 4.97 ERA. His velocity was within one MPH of where it had been the previous season, indicating that pitch speed may not have been the problem. Seemingly, the biggest difference was how Hammel went away from his sinker as the 2013 season progressed, relying more upon his fastball and slider. For as much as the opposition was hitting his sinker, Hammel was not fooling anyone with the fastball or slider either, as the opposition hit over .300 against both pitches in 2013.
Hammel is reportedly looking for a one year deal, but could be open to a three year contract with the right team. It may very well be that the injuries he pitched through last season were the reason as to why his performance fell off that drastically. Or, it could be that Hammel’s 2012 season was very much the outlier for his career. With pitchers such as Yordano Ventura and Danny Duffy potentially ready to claim spots in the rotation, is Hammel really an upgrade? Not with his track record.
Jason Hammel is likely to be a reclamation project for some team. However, for a team that is claiming to be intent on competing and looking for an upgrade in their rotation, Hammel just is not that type of pitcher.