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Saturday, February 01, 2014

Cubs agree to terms with Jason Hammel on 1-year, $6 million deal

Exciting times in Wrigleyville….’s Jon Heyman confirms that the Cubs have agreed to a deal with right-hander Jason Hammel. Heyman adds that the one-year contract will pay Hammel $6 million for 2014 with the opportunity to make another $1 million in incentives.

Hammel, 31, pitched to a 4.97 ERA (85 ERA+) and 2.00 K/BB ratio in 139 1/3 innings for the Orioles last season. Of his 26 appearances, 23 were starts. He missed more than a month because of an elbow strain. For his career, Hammel owns an ERA+ of 94 across parts of eight major-league seasons.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 01, 2014 at 12:28 PM | 11 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cubs, free agents, jason hammel

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   1. SteveM. Posted: February 01, 2014 at 04:13 PM (#4649884)
On one hand, I am glad the Cubs are finally spending some money. On the other hand, eh. One of these days the Epstein will have to do something to improve the major league roster, not just accumulating prospects.
   2. puck Posted: February 01, 2014 at 04:48 PM (#4649898)
Hammel's a cromulent back half of the rotation guy when healthy but I don't think he's remained completely healthy through any of his last 4 seasons.
   3. McCoy Posted: February 01, 2014 at 04:49 PM (#4649899)
But, but, he's a lottery ticket!
   4. puck Posted: February 01, 2014 at 05:04 PM (#4649906)
But, but, he's a lottery ticket!

Of the scratch-off variety rather than powerball?
   5. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 01, 2014 at 05:09 PM (#4649907)
Hammel's a cromulent back half of the rotation guy

And consider the exciting chance that the Cubs could get a Jake Arrieta-type pitcher in return for him at the deadline.
   6. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: February 01, 2014 at 06:34 PM (#4649932)
I think it's a cromulent move but it would probably behoove the Cubs to offer more guaranteed money in exchange for a team option year at the end of the deal. This type of contract really limits the upside for the Cubs in the event the move actually works - both in direct value to the MLB club and in trade return if they move him to a contender.
   7. cardsfanboy Posted: February 01, 2014 at 07:02 PM (#4649934)
I don't see any upside for this guy...this is one of those guys you sign to a minor league deal and put in triple a in case you lose 3+ pitchers at the same time. Maybe convert to a reliever and use as a mop-up guy, but no way should anyone project him to be on the opening day roster, even as a fifth starter for a last place team.

I guess there is an outside chance he repeats his 2012 season...but it looks to me like that was a lucky year, low number of homeruns allowed in comparison to other years, and a career high K rate and a little babip magic. I guess I'm being a little hard on him, he should be able to post about a 95 era+ and that is acceptable from a 4th or 5th starter...but it just seems like such a risk and yes it's not a lot of money in baseball terms, but still seems to be more than he is worth without making the contract incentive based.
   8. tfbg9 Posted: February 01, 2014 at 08:49 PM (#4649961)
he should be able to post about a 95 era+ and that is acceptable from a 4th or 5th starter...

That's actually above average for 4th or 5th starter. An average MLB starter has a 95 ERA+.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: February 01, 2014 at 10:04 PM (#4649981)
But an "average" MLB starter is a "4th" starter. Teams generally use anywhere from 7 to 10 starters to get through a season with 1-1.5 rotation slots worth of starts going to guys who really stink.

In 2013, there were 233 pitchers who made at least 5 starts. 81 of them had 0 WAR or worse (including any relief appearances). Hammel, as it turns out, was one of the guys with exactly 0 WAR (tied for 153rd). If you look at 2011-13 and pitchers with at least 30 starts, you get 194 of which only 22 were replacement-level or worse and Hammel checks in at #98, pretty much average 4th starter level. He's fairly "durable" with 70 starts but not high quality. So, as much WAR as Edwin Jackson in 23 fewer starts but also as much as Jeff Karstens in 29 more starts.

Anyway, if one views a starting staff of consisting of 8 pitchers, then you don't want Hammel as your #4 even though, at the end of the year, due to injuries to better pitchers, he's quite likely to have been your 4th best starter. That's what he's there for -- you hope the durability is real and so he keeps the Casey Colemans off the field as much as possible. But he shouldn't be any better than 5th/6th in terms of quality -- when everybody's healthy, you want him pitching as little as possible.

So, trying to find Hammel like pitchers ... 2010-12, at least 60 starts, GS > 12*WAR (i.e. 5 WAR or less in 60 starts) ... it's an interesting set of 64 pitchers. The most durable have been pretty good at times -- Dempster, Jimenez, Haren, Wandy, Garza, even Shields -- and with (roughly) 6.5 WAR in 96 starts that's about league-average. Hammel is here with 5 WAR in 77 starts which, if pro-rated to 96 starts, would put him just over 6 and in line with Lincecum, Morrow, Shields -- not terrible company. Some of those guys are 2/3 starters or at least potentially so (e.g. Liriano).

Of those 64, only 56 pitched in 2013. Of the 56 that pitched, 26 of them had 0 or less WAR. 14-16 of them were average or better. A handful were primarily relievers in 2013 (this worked well for Hochevar) and a half-dozen or so made only a handful of starts, mainly due to injury. They did remain fairly durable though with 38 of them making at least 20 starts and presumably some of the ones who didn't were due to suckitude not injury.

I'm not sure where that leaves Hammel. It suggests it will be a random selection from the actual Hammel of the last three years. We've got about a 1/4 chance of getting the Hammel of 2012 (2+ WAR), about 1/4 we get Hammmel 2011 (.5 WAR with a 96 ERA+ in 27 starts) and about 1/2 we get replacement or injured Hammel.
   10. zonk Posted: February 02, 2014 at 12:54 PM (#4650095)
It's Scott Feldman v2.0...

A one year deal on a pitcher in his 30s who has shown enough in the past that there's a chance he could be worth something, but a better chance he won't be worth much more than a slightly younger version of himself... last year, that something turned out to be Jake Arrieta... so who's that going to be this year? My money is on Carlos Carasco if the Indians contend again.
   11. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 03, 2014 at 09:27 AM (#4650610)
Hammel isn't an overwhelming signing (particularly after the Tanaka rumors), but he's fairly young, he gets ground balls, and he does make the Cubs' rotation a bit better than it would be without him. On the whole, I think it's a decent move.

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