Finally. The Chicago Cubs signed former Cub Jason Hammel to a 2-year, $18 million deal today. The Cubs have a club option for a 3rd year or there is a $2 million buyout if the sides decide to part ways before the 2017 MLB season.
Hammel performed well for the Cubs in 2014, going 8-5 with a sparkling 2.98 ERA during the 1st three months of the season. But the Cubs traded Hammel and Jeff Samardzija to the Oakland A’s on July 4th in exchange for shortstop Addison Russell and outfielder Bill McKinney. Russell is one of the Cubs top prospects behind 3rd baseman Kris Bryant and McKinney has the makings of becoming a star outfielder with a great knack for getting on base.
Hammel struggled with the A’s, going 2-6 with a 4.26 ERA during the 2nd half of the season. But the Cubs are confident that he can return to form back in his comfortable Chicago surroundings and with pitching coach Chris Bosio who was credited with helping Hammel regain his form. Hammel has also pitched for current Cubs manager Joe Maddon when he was with the Tampa Bay Rays and he was Jon Lester’s teammate with the A’s during the dramatic 2nd half of the 2014 season. Hammel is hoping that Lester becomes his teammate again if he decides to sign a big free-agent deal with the Northsiders.
Speaking of Lester, multiple reports indicated that he will make a decision sometime during the next 24 hours. I really hope so — this has dragged on way longer than I thought, with the emergence of the Los Angeles Dodgers into the mix likely driving up the price way past the $150 million I thought would be a fair price for Lester’s services. I still feel like Lester will choose either the Red Sox or Cubs, but if the Dodgers throw in a 7th year, passing up $170+ million will be hard for Lester to do, even if it means going to a “less comfortable” situation.
Stay tuned — we’ll keep you posted as soon as anything breaks…