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Jason Hammel Is Still Available

Should the Cubs offer him a one-year deal?

Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, John Perrotto wrote about Jason Hammel:

One of the biggest surprises of free agency is that right-hander Jason Hammel has received limited interest despite going a combined 25-17 with a 3.79 ERA in 61 starts with the Chicago Cubs over the last two seasons.

However, many teams are unwilling to commit to Hammel beyond one year after the Cubs left him off the postseason roster because of elbow tightness. Scouts also believe the quality of the 34-year-old’s stuff is declining.

I hadn’t remembered the elbow tightness thing that way. Yes, Hammel missed his last regular-season start due to that elbow issue:

Cubs righty Jason Hammel was scratched from his final regular-season start, which was scheduled for [September 30], because of tightness in his right elbow, but he said it was a precautionary move so he is ready for the postseason.

"Weighing the risk-reward of throwing a game, maybe going five, six, seven innings and having something happening, especially with [bad] weather, who knows what could happen?" said Hammel, who has been bothered by the discomfort for a couple of weeks. "It stinks. Obviously, I want to make the start. We're kind of thinking ahead and availability in October."

It seemed to me, and I think to most at the time, that Hammel wasn’t going to make the postseason roster anyway, even if he had been healthy. This elbow issue had to be minor — Hammel, as far as I can tell from his game logs, didn’t miss any other starts in 2016.

The Cubs had a contract option for Hammel for 2017 which was reportedly worth $12 million. That was, clearly, too much for Hammel, plus, Theo & Co. apparently wanted to do him a favor after a pretty good 2016 and let him explore his worth on the open market.

But no multi-year offers have materialized for Hammel, even though there are quite a number of teams he could slot in as a mid-rotation starter. The Perrotto article contains this interesting quote:

“He’s going to have to lower his sights,” a scout from an American League team said. “There are just too many questions marks surrounding him. I’m not saying he couldn’t help someone, it’s just that he’s not a sure thing and it’s tough to commit a lot of money to that kind of player.”

Hammel is 34. In 78 starts over two-plus seasons with the Cubs, he posted a 3.59 ERA, 1.143 WHIP and 2.3 bWAR, by far his best numbers with any team during his 11-year career. The Cubs, for the time being, have said that Mike Montgomery will be their fifth starter. But if Hammel could put up similar numbers to his 2016 season, at a lower cost than $12 million, why not re-sign him to a one-year deal, if he can’t find a multi-year contract anywhere else?

Say, somewhere along the lines of $8 million for a one-year deal. Would you do it?