Chicago Cubs: Jason Hammel signs two-year deal with Royals

The wait is finally over for former Chicago Cubs pitcher Jason Hammel. He’s signed a two-year deal with the Kansas City Royals.

Once the celebrations began to wind down and the confetti was swept up from the Chicago Cubs’ parade, the news broke. Despite a starting pitching need, Theo Epstein declined to pick up Jason Hammel’s 2017 $12 million option.

It was described as a move of respect for the veteran, who went 15-10 last year for the Cubs. That total set a new career-best for Hammel, who now joins a Royals rotation that lost a big piece last month with the passing of Yordano Ventura.

Despite being left off the Chicago postseason roster, the right-hander played a critical role during the regular season. He fell just short of the 170-inning mark, making 30 starts. In three years with the Cubs, Hammel pitched to a 3.59 ERA across 78 starts. That went along with a 1.143 WHIP and 3.62 SO/BB ratio. Those numbers were the best he’d posted with any club.

Hammel also spent time with the Tampa Bay Rays, Colorado Rockies, Baltimore Orioles and Oakland Athletics.

His tenure in Oakland came via a trade between the Chicago Cubs and Billy Beane’s ballclub that ultimately netted shortstop Addison Russell. That deal also sent former top starter Jeff Samardzija west in a deal that, looking back, falls in the ‘win’ column for Epstein.

A similar role in Kansas City

Hammel provides consistency in the middle of a Royals rotation that features Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Jason Vargas, Chris Young and Nate Karns. For each of the last three seasons, he made at least 30 appearances between Chicago and Oakland.

Given he’s heading into his mid-thirties, the fact that the deal contains an option for a third year is key. That being said, the fact that he settled for just an $8 million AAV is no doubt disappointing. Especially given Hammel was widely viewed as one of the better starters available this winter.

Although he rarely pitches past the fifth or sixth inning when starting, Hammel’s MO fits perfectly with Ned Yost and the Royals, who rely heavily upon a dominant relief corps. Despite losing Wade Davis to the Cubs this offseason, their bullpen remains among the league’s best heading into the spring.

For Kansas City, 2017 may very well be their last shot at another title. Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar are all set to hit the open market at season’s end.

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