Jason Hammel is one of the 25 best starting pitchers in baseball this season by many measures: WAR, ERA, and K/9, just to name a few key categories. To say “top 25″ might seem unimpressive until you consider the fact that they are 30 Major League teams and each has a five man rotation (or something like it).
The point is this: thus far Hammel has been a quality starting pitcher, even if nobody will confuse him for a true ace. That kind of help for a team’s starting rotation is hard to come by mid-season, especially on a low-cost one-year contract such as Hammel’s. And with the Chicago Cubs making Hammel available in a trade, the interest is going to be significant and widespread.
With those rumors starting to take shape, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune notes that there is a growing belief in the industry that Hammel will end up with the Seattle Mariners, something that was reported in the Chicago Sun-Times on Saturday. He also writes that it makes more sense that the Mariners would eye Hammel because he would cost less in prospects than fellow-Cub Jeff Samardzija.
The allure of Samardzija and a guy like David Price is the fact that they are under team control for an extra season in 2015. That gives potential trade partners more value and more time to negotiate an extension if they desire.
Hammel is a more traditional rental, and one who comes with some risk. His career has been plagued with inconsistency. When he’s good he is really good, but he has trouble stringing together productive seasons. If some of those struggles return during a playoff race, a team like the Mariners might end up with buyer’s remorse.
Then again, that might be why Hammel will cost less in prospects. In the end that makes a trade for him a lower risk proposition, which will be more appealing to a team like the Mariners that may or may not be true contenders this year.