Why is Jason Hammel Still a Free Agent? And Other Bullets

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Why is Jason Hammel Still a Free Agent? And Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Six more weeks of winter, eh? I care less about that than I do the arrival of baseball …

  • Wondering why, in an extremely weak starting pitching class of free agents, Jason Hammel is still looking for a job in February? Well, you wouldn’t be alone. Although we can come up with reasons – the peripherals were dicey at times last year, especially late in the year, he’s getting into his mid-30s, etc. – it’s hard to imagine that a guy like Hammel, who figures to be a solid bet to be a good 4/5 at worst, would not be able to secure a decent, say, two-year deal in this market. But maybe we underestimated the impact of his late-season elbow issue (and subsequent lack of appearances in the postseason)? Peter Gammons says that some teams were scared off by injury concerns:

  • Those concerns were probably exacerbated by the Cubs – a team in need of pitching depth – declining a very reasonable 2017 option in November. That decision, as has been well-documented, amounted to something of a gentleman’s agreement, and the Cubs reportedly gave Hammel the choice if he wanted to venture out in free agency. In their announcement, the Cubs made sure to say that Hammel was healthy – but who knows? Maybe that scared teams off, too. In any case, as Gammons reports, Hammel is healthy, and still looking for a job. Hopefully he’ll find one soon.
  • (No, I don’t quite see the fit with the Cubs, given that they now have two guys fighting for the 5th starter job (Mike Montgomery and Brett Anderson), and Hammel can very likely find a clearer path to a starting job with another team. Further, he’s presumably going to get a big league deal, which would be a tough roster fit on the Cubs if he didn’t make the rotation. Yes, I’d like to see the Cubs add another veteran arm for depth – ever after the Eddie Butler trade – but it’s almost certainly going to need to be of the minor-league-deal variety.)
  • Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein met with a group of at-risk youths, together with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, for a mentoring session (Sun-Times). There, while trying to maintain the focus on the local programs designed to help Chicago, Epstein was asked about President Trump’s frequent invocation of violence in Chicago, and he offered his thoughts (separate Sun-Times article). I’ll encourage you to read Epstein’s comments, though I’m going to be sensitive to the dual realities that (1) the non-sports world quite clearly rubs up against the sports world regularly, and (2) many of you view this space as something of a respite from the hostile political climate elsewhere. Chicago has very well known, and also very complicated, issues with violence; though I have been disappointed to see Chicago held up and used as a proxy for other national issues, given that its violence problems, while serious and in need of attention, are not strictly unique to Chicago. All of this has an indirect impact on Chicago businesses – like the Cubs – and I can see the merit in local leaders (even somewhat symbolic leaders like Epstein) offering their perspective. I won’t ask you not to talk about this in the comments, obviously, but I will say this: your responses to this topic do not have to devolve into nastiness with each other (or Epstein, or Trump, or anyone else).
  • Jimmy Buffett is coming to Wrigley Field this summer:

  • Oh, #AtCubs:

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.