I’ve never had to use so much hand moisturizing in my life than this winter. It hasn’t even been all that dry, has it? Clearly, I’m just getting old and the residual moisture in my body is slowly leaving forever.

  • There’s a little bit of buzz about a Jesse Rogers report on the circumstances of Jason Hammel’s departure from the Cubs, and you’ll want to give it a look here. The short version: in addition to writing up about the Cubs’ pitching depth, Rogers mentions that sources indicate Hammel’s decision to have the Cubs decline his option (recall, the Cubs ultimately gave him the choice, even though it was a club option) was “as much about Maddon as anything else.” In other words, the implication of the report is that Hammel felt Maddon “had lost faith in him,” and it was time to move on to another situation.

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  • What’s my reaction to that? Well, I don’t like to take these kinds of things too far because, on the one hand, I trust Rogers’ reporting on this, but, on the other hand, a lot can get murky’d up by this point an offseason that probably didn’t go as Hammel had hoped after making his option decision. I don’t want to see too much retconning going on, but I do think it’s fair to accept that Hammel often indicated his frustration with Maddon’s quick (but typically justifiable) hook, and he probably did have concerns about returning to this Cubs team, knowing it could all happen again in 2017. And maybe those concerns felt even more pressing to Hammel, what with the Cubs’ clear intention of seeing what they had in Mike Montgomery, and frequently-stated desire to add controllable young starting pitching. Do I think this is a story about a pitcher saying he wanted off of a world championship team because he couldn’t get along with the manager? No. Could the way the manager – and the organization – would have viewed Hammel as depth, rather than a clear rotation piece, have played a factor, especially given the early-hook history? Of course.
  • In the end, all is well that ends mostly well: the Cubs, otherwise seriously lacking for rotation depth, have since added Brett Anderson, Eddie Butler, and Alec Mills (among their other internal options), and Hammel signed a two-year deal with the Royals with a $16 million guarantee. He also received a $2 million buyout from the Cubs, guaranteeing him $18 million from 2017 to 2018. If the Cubs had kept him ($12 million in 2017), it’s not inconceivable that he would have received less than $6 million in 2018 on the free agent market if he’d been used in 2017 solely as a depth piece and/or had a down year. Hopefully he has a great year with the Royals. (And Jorge Soler, too!)

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