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jason hammel featureAs we’ll discuss more this week, because international bonus pool slots are tradable, and because the next IFA period opens on Wednesday (which marks the first day those slots can be traded), we might see some actual trade activity this week. That’s what happened last year on July 2, when the period opened, with the Cubs making three separate deals involving IFA slots, including the trade of Scott Feldman to the Orioles.

We don’t exactly have a long track record of IFA slot trading – last year was the first year they were eligible to be traded – but if history repeats itself, we could see Jason Hammel feature prominently in the news this week. Because of the off-day yesterday, and another on Thursday, Hammel isn’t scheduled to start again until Friday for the Cubs, although he’d be on normal rest by Wednesday … July 2.

You can expect an extremely rumor-filled week on the Hammel front.

  • Nick Cafardo reports, as many other have, that the Blue Jays seem to be more focused on Jason Hammel right now than Jeff Samardzija. I’m not sure I buy it, but it does set up an interesting dynamic for the Cubs: imagine that the Blue Jays really do prefer Hammel, but Samardzija is just behind. Imagine further that the Cubs feel like they could do OK in a Hammel deal with another team, and could do best with the Blue Jays on Samardzija. Would the Cubs risk dealing Hammel to another team – passing up an acceptable deal with the Blue Jays – to roll the dice on getting the best possible Samardzija deal late in July from the Blue Jays?
  • Separately, Cafardo writes something that’ll get you a little smiley: “One major league source said, ‘You could argue that Hammel is the most sought-after player, positional or pitcher, in the trade market right now.'” Not a bad place to be following a $6 million investment in the right guy. To be clear, Hammel is not the best available pitcher, even despite his incredible start to the year – that title still belongs, in my mind, to David Price, with Jeff Samardzija close behind. But when you consider the total package, including contract, short-term upside, and expected price, I don’t think it’s at all implausible to say that Hammel is the best arm to acquire. Of course, that then pushes his price up, which jumbles the calculus. If Hammel is dealt, though, we should all keep our heads on right about the return: yes, I believe he’s genuinely more valuable than Scott Feldman was last year, and that return proved to be fantastic. But, at the time of the deal, it didn’t look like as much as fans were expecting. Just remember that if/when Hammel is traded.
  • Bruce Levine reports that the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Mariners were scouting Jason Hammel on Friday (and Jeff Samardzija on Saturday), and hears from a source that the Cubs’ asking price on Hammel is a top three organizational prospect, which actually doesn’t tell us much. A top three prospect from the Red Sox or Blue Jays or Orioles is a far cry from a top three prospect from the Angels, for example. Even within systems, there can be a huge, huge difference between the number one guy and the number three guy (Yankees or Mariners, for example). I suppose just take this for what it’s worth – if it’s true, the Cubs are seeking a top prospect for Hammel. I’d hope so. Or more.

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