Jason Hammel is not a long-term answer for the Seattle Mariners, but he could be just what the starting rotation needs for the 2017 season.
In some respects, it feels like the MLB season has only just finished. And yet here we are, just six weeks away from Seattle Mariners‘ pitchers and catchers reporting for spring training.
Along those lines, time is running out for the Mariners to boost their rotation. Certainly, finding another starter would go some way towards making 2017 the year they finally end the longest current postseason drought in the Majors.
However, another intriguing name to consider is that of Jason Hammel, who is fresh off winning a World Series ring with the Chicago Cubs. Certainly, he has already proved to be a popular target, with several reports claiming at least 10 teams are interested in his services, including the Miami Marlins and Kansas City Royals.
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In many ways, this interest shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Hammel stands out as one of the best available pitchers in what is a below average crop of free agent starters.
However, this doesn’t mean the 34-year old should be merely viewed as the best of a bad bunch. He is still coming off a season in which he registered a career-high 15 wins, finishing with a record of 15-10 in 30 starts.
Hammel was not included on the Cubs’ postseason roster due to elbow tightness, but he still recorded a 144/53 K/BB ratio over 166.2 innings. It’s also worth noting his 3.83 ERA would have ranked him third-best when compared to the six pitchers with at least 15 starts for the Mariners last season.
However, despite what amounted to an impressive campaign for the 2002 10th round draft pick, the Cubs surprisingly opted not to pick up his $12 million option for this year. In addition, most interested teams are only prepared to offer him a one-year deal at this juncture, but why?
It essentially comes down to two factors, with the first being Hammel’s aforementioned elbow tightness. The second reason relates to a growing sentiment among scouts that his skills might be on the decline.
For his part, the righty recently changed agents, due to his frustration with how the process has played out so far during the offseason. Regardless, scouts are warning that he needs to lower his expectations, because there are just too many question marks surrounding him.
Despite these concerns, Hammel could still be exactly what the Mariners need short-term, even factoring in Jerry Dipoto’s preference to lower the average age of his roster. Consider that there are several key players approaching the end of their window to contend, including the likes of Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano.
As such, bringing the 11-year veteran in could help Cruz and Cano reach their goals. Overall, what Hammel offers is worth the gamble compared to any potential downside, especially as he won’t cost the Mariners any draft picks or prospects.
What’s your take? Do you believe Hammel provides a good short-term fix for the Mainers’ rotation? Or are you concerned about even giving him a one-year deal, with the possibility he might be on the downside of his career? Share your thoughts in the comments section.