Jason Hammel turned in another steady season for the Cubs in 2016, taking the ball 30 times before an elbow injury ended his season in late September and kept him off the roster throughout the team's World Series run. Just days after winning Game 7 of the World Series, the Cubs front office declined an option on Hammel's contract for 2017, making him a free agent. At age 34, Hammel has never reached 180 innings in a big league season. Also of concern is that he struggled in a big way outside of Wrigley, as opposing hitters put together a .278/.344/.530 line against him on the road last season including 18 of the 25 home runs he allowed. For 2017, Hammel's value will hinge on the health of his arm and the park factors of his new home park, as there are a short list of parks capable of making a dent in his career 1.1 HR/9.
Hammel (elbow) signed a two-year, $16 million contract with the Royals pending a physical, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The deal also includes a mutual option for a third year. The right-hander had a passable season with the Cubs in 2016, sporting a 3.83 ERA and 15 wins by the season's end, but given Chicago's multitude of other options, he was forced to latch on with another team more in need of starting pitching. Hammel seems primed to jump right into Kansas City's rotation once his elbow is back to full strength, which could bode well for him given the strong defense that will soon lie behind him.
Hammel's option for the 2017 season was declined by the Cubs on Sunday, Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago reports. The veteran posted a decent 2016 campaign, but was not part of the team's playoff roster as they shaved down the starting rotation to four. Hammel will likely be able to find work in 2017, but his departure opens up a spot in the Cubs' rotation, presumably for Mike Montgomery if they don't add to the rotation in free agency.
Hammel (elbow) was left off the World Series roster, Bleacher Nation's Brett Taylor reports. The fact that he was left off the roster could be health related, but he also doesn't make much sense as a bullpen option, given the Cubs' other options. There is a $10 million club option for Hammel next season, and it would cost them $2 million to buy him out.
Hammel (elbow) was left off the NLCS roster. It's not clear if he was left off due to elbow tightness or the simple fact that he is not one of the team's top four starters and they wanted to load the bullpen with lefties to take advantage of the Dodgers' main weakness.
Hammel (elbow) was left off the Cubs' NLDS roster. Elbow tightness prevented Hammel from starting during the final weekend of the regular season and he was left off the NLDS roster in favor of John Lackey, who will start Game 4 if necessary. Hammel has struggled in his last four trips to the mound, allowing 20 earned runs on 29 hits (including six homers) in 20.2 innings, but there's always a chance he could return if the Cubs advance to the Championship Series.