The Royals are reportedly looking for another starting pitcher before the 2017 season begins. Is Jason Hammel their prime target?
Both Boston Globe reporter Nick Cafardo and MLB Trade Rumors mentioned former Chicago Cubs starter Jason Hammel as a possible signing by the Kansas City Royals. Certainly, Hammel would help fill out the Kansas City rotation. The 34-year-old former Cub went 15-10, with a 3.83 ERA for Chicago in 2016.
While those numbers look pretty good, he only struck out 7.8 hitters per nine innings in a league where pitchers bat. He also only compiled 166.0 innings in 30 starts. In short, he’s not a guy that’s going to take you deep into games. However, he’s made 61 starts in the last two seasons. At least you can expect Hammel to take the ball every fifth day.
The problem is that a lot of other teams see Hammel as a possible “bargain” signing. He’s not a guy with high demand due to velocity drops the last four seasons. As many as 10 teams have expressed interest in Hammel this winter. Most of these teams are bottom feeding after the Cubs declined his 2017 $12 million option despite three consecutive solid seasons.
Hammel expected to draw strong offers with the weak pitching market this winter. However, he remains unsigned as of the last day of 2016. Apparently, many teams are low-balling him even though he doesn’t carry draft pick compensation.
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While Jason Hammel would be a fine no. 5 starter for Kansas City. I’m rather skeptical that KC can win the auction with that many interested parties. Really, the only chance that I see is if the Royals clear some salary between now and the start of the season. Another possibility is that Kansas City offers more years than the other teams. Such a deal would be back loaded to keep the 2017 price down.
KC might be able to offer such a contract because they expect their payroll to rapidly drop next winter. Hammel also fits Kansas City’s affection for pitch-to-contact hurlers that have an established track record.