Hammel is the best available free agent starting pitcher and here are his best fits
The best starting pitcher left on the market still needs a job
The best starting pitcher left in free agency is Jason Hammel and it's a bit surprising he hasn't been locked up somewhere now with less than a month until spring training begins.
Keep in mind that the Chicago Cubs declined Hammel's $12 million option basically as a favor to him, as he was expected to land far more on the open market. Instead, he's still sitting unemployed.
And as the offseason has progressed, we've seen possible Hammel suitors drop out. The Baltimore Orioles were once rumored to be interested, but once they signed Mark Trumbo , word was they weren't going to spend much more. The Seattle Mariners were once connected, but they've instead added Yovani Gallardo and Drew Smyly via trades. The Cubs felt like a fallback option (a la Dexter Fowler last season), but the signing of Brett Anderson seems to take that off the table. The Miami Marlins were connected to Hammel earlier this offseason, but have signed Edinson Volquez and Jeff Locke while having traded for Dan Straily .
An interesting note here is that Hammel switched agents back on December 20. So apparently he wasn't happy with the direction (or lack thereof) in free agency at the time.
Hammel, 34, was 15-10 with a 3.83 ERA (105 ERA+), 1.21 WHIP and 144 strikeouts in 166 2/3 innings last season for the World Series champion Cubs. He wasn't on the postseason roster, but there's no shame in being the fifth starter for the team with the best ERA in the regular season. He should be a good mid-rotation option for a team somewhere.
Who might that team be?
New York Yankees - He received "some level of interest" from the Yankees as of Jan. 3, per MLB.com. As things currently stand, Luis Severino and Chad Green would be their four and five starters, respectively.
Chicago White Sox - If they do deal Jose Quintana -- as was rumored for weeks, though it seems like those rumors have totally stalled -- they'd have a hole in their rotation to fill. If Hammel got to the point where a one-year deal was the best move, he'd be a great sign-and-flip guy for the rebuilding White Sox.
Houston Astros - They are putting out signals that they're done making "big" moves this offseason, but Hammel over Charlie Morton in the rotation would be a big upgrade. The Astros have previously been tied to Quintana in rumors, so there's an indication that they'd be OK with adding a starter.
Kansas City Royals - It's an awful circumstance, to be sure, but it's also reality that the death of Yordano Ventura leaves a need in the rotation.
Pittsburgh Pirates - Obviously the money would have to be low, but he could fit nicely here behind Gerrit Cole .
San Diego Padres , Cincinnati Reds - Sign and flip?
As can be seen, the market is pretty thin right now for Hammel. This means we're inching closer to him taking a one-year deal and hoping things look better next season. It also means that some team could be getting a pretty nice bargain on a mid-rotation starter with spring training right around the corner.