#Cubs decline option on Hammel

The Cubs announced Sunday that the team has declined the $12 million option on Jason Hammel’s contract for 2017. The 34-year-old right-hander now becomes a free agent.

Hammel won a career-high 15 games, finishing 15-10 with a 3.83 ERA in 30 starts this season, striking out 144 over 166 2/3 innings.

In a statement, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein thanked Hammel for his contributions to the team.

“He was an effective, reliable starter the entire time he was a Cub, and this year he was an integral part of one of the best rotations in club history,” Epstein said. “We would not have been in a position to win the World Series without Jason’s terrific performance during the regular season. Jason and his family have been outstanding members of our organization and our community, and we are proud of their time with and impact on the Cubs.

“While Jason is healthy and primed to have another effective season in 2017, we have decided to consider other internal and external options for our starting rotation next year,” Epstein said. “Our hope is that by giving a starting opportunity to some younger pitchers under multiple years of club control, we can unearth a starter who will help us not only in 2017 but also in 2018 and beyond.”

Epstein said that when they agreed with Hammel on the two-year contract at the 2014 Winter Meetings, the option was included with the intent that it would be exercised if the pitcher was going to be with the Cubs in 2017.

“The intent was never to exercise the option and then trade Jason, so we will not consider that path,” Epstein said. “Instead, Jason will have the opportunity to enter free agency coming off an outstanding season and the ability to choose his next club. Meanwhile, the organization gains some flexibility and the opportunity to use a rotation spot to develop a younger, long-term starting pitcher.”

This move could benefit lefty Mike Montgomery, who made five starts with the Cubs after he was acquired from the Mariners for Dan Vogelbach. Montgomery compiled a 2.82 ERA in 17 appearances with the Cubs. As a starter this year, he was 1-1 with a 3.28 ERA in seven games, (including two with the Mariners.

The Cubs list of free agents also includes Dexter Fowler, Aroldis Chapman, Travis Wood, Joe Smith, Chris Coghlan, Trevor Cahill, and David Ross, who has said he’s retiring after this season.


  1. Pingback: #Cubs decline option on Hammel – Cubs Chronicles
  2. k.g.

    Aloha Folks, so it begins. I wish Hammel well. Would be cool as a friend mentioned if something could offered to Ross whereby he could be catcher/coach only have to be at home games or ST: Contreras and Schwarber could learn so much from him. Also think about Schwarber learning 1st base, give Rizzo a break from time to time. Will the FO bring back Fowler and Wood? I think Wood is worth it and if Fowler comes back would there be a big trade to bring in another controllable arm like a Sonny Gray?! Well, this should be an exciting off-season too! Mahalo!

    • Doug in Exile

      The problem with that is, in order for Ross to play, he would have to be on the 25-man roster and you can’t just deactivate someone from the 25-man whenever you want and as many times as you want. So if you came to some sort of agreement where he will only be present for home games, that means for every road game until rosters expand in September, the Cubs would be playing one man short on the bench. I was thinking that if Dave Martinez leaves to be a manager somewhere, they could offer Ross the bench coach job, but the Arizona job is filled and apparently Bud Black is taking the Rockies job, so I’m guessing Martinez is staying put.

      • k.g.

        Aloha Doug, yes that is true in that a position would have to go. Maybe Ross could be a coach just at ST and home games. I just think he is invaluable for a young Contreras/Schwarber. Would ‘ve worth it to make something happen so that we have years of good backdrops! Mahalo!

      • k.g.

        Aloha Doug, sorry about my darn “auto fill-in” feature, meant to say, I think it is worth retaining Ross’s services to help the young folks so we have good back-stops for years to come! Mahalo.

  3. Carolyn

    Maybe he will go to some team that will “Just give him a chance”. I love the Cubs and I’m not an expert but I don’t think the powers that be in the Cubs org. Gave him a fair shake. I’m praying that his best years are in front of him and some really good team snatches him up! I look forward to watching him soar!

    • MatB

      They did bring him back after trading him. He was an integral part of building the big lead in the division over the first half. I wish him well. I do wonder if he might be a VERY valuable pitcher on the bullpen.

    • Doug in Exile

      Hammel was in the Cubs rotation for the entire 2015 & 2016 regular season, so I don’t see how anyone can say that the Cubs didn’t give him a “fair shake”. Hammel also made the playoff roster last season and he didn’t this season because the Cubs had four starting pitchers they thought were better than him and thought they had better options in the bullpen as well. And to be honest, his criticism of Joe Maddon taking him out of games early down the stretch probably didn’t help his cause either. At this point, no one who has paid attention for the past two seasons can say anything about Hammel other than he’s a decent middle to back of the rotation starter who is pretty good in the first half and then fades after the all-star break. If some team wants to throw $50 million at him for that, then go right ahead, but for the Cubs, I think they’re better off with Montgomery giving them two lefties in the rotation in 2017…. or trading for someone who can bridge the gap between now and 2018 when both Lackey and Arrieta are likely gone.

  4. jasper Jiggs

    The Cubs gave Hammel a choice. Then gave him two Million to opt out and become a FA, that was his choice.
    Next not mentioned is Montero is already complaining about his use during the Playoff’s. I guess he wanted more playing time? I thought he was used perfectly, he had a GS winner. He also had the game winning RBI in the game 7 winner, without that 2dn run in the top of the 10th, who knows?
    Fowler has opted out, after the best season of his career and his age, he is going after the bucks.
    Wood, Cahill, Chapman, Smith, Kawasaki and Coghlan are FA’s.
    So it starts: Cubs have a CF ready, but no leadoff man. If Almora cant make it as an everyday CF’er, does Bryant play there and Candelario, who is definitely ready take over 3B.
    Baez definitely became an everyday second baseman during the Playoffs, does Zobrist now become that guy that plays all positions giving everybody a day off every week and a half or so?
    With Montero’s bad back and complaints, does he get traded? Everyone knows that Contreras is now the everyday Catcher and if Schwarber knee is good, he can Catch a couple days a week while playing LF has a regular.
    Pitching depth: last year they started the season with the top 5, to include a 6th, 7th and 8th starter. That being, Cahill, Wood and Warren.
    Warren is gone, Cahill & Wood FA’s. So they now have Lester, Hendricks, Arietta, Montgomery and ???
    Bullpen, Edwards may be the closer next year, the LH ace will probably be a guy named Leathersich.
    Was Rondon hurt during the Playoffs or just undependable? Will he be back?
    Strope, who knows about this guy, but he always has good STATS.
    Grimm if he could only be the Grimm of 2015, what a Pitcher he would be.
    Management has a plan, I am sure Pitching is a big part of that plan.

    • k.g.

      Aloha jasper, yes I heard about Montero’s comments as well, it is unfortunate. But if Ross can work with the young catchers, I think the team is in a good place; might be a little rough next year but I am sure very good come 2018. I do think Wood should be given consideration to come back. I hope an Almora could possibly be the lead off hitter, assuming Fowler does not come back. I wonder what happened with Rondon too. There is a chance Chapman does not return, so who fills that spot if money is not spent to get a reliever? We will know shortly. Take care now! Mahalo!

  5. jhosk

    Isn`t jasper forgetting about Lackey? He was signed for two years and will be back. I understand why the Cubs parted ways with Hammel. It was apparent the organization did not prize him; otherwise he would have been included on the 2016 postseason roster. The Cubs want elite starters in the 2017 rotation and Hammel did not qualify, and no one should dispute that. Lester and Hendricks are elite. It`s questionable if Arrieta and Lackey will fit that description in 2017. Each could. The thought of Montgomery as a starter is enticing. It`s not a stretch to expect the organization to find another talented starter over the winter. The goal should be to have five outstanding bodies in the 2017 starting rotation. Mediocrity, or even above average (this is not Lake Wobegon), will not cut it. {As for Ross, the man wants to have some time with his family. Carrie Muskat provided an in-depth report on that subject during the summer. If you read it, you would have come away with the conclusion that the man is wanting to participate in his children`s lives in a way his baseball obligations have prevented him from doing so these many years. Please give the man his space. He does not need to come back as a player-coach in 2017. He needs and wants to be a parent and husband, with all that entails. Down the road, I see Rossy becoming, not just a coach, but a manager. He has the make-up and intangibles to be a very successful one, no doubt. Those attributes were on display this past 2016 season, and in spades. If you did not see that, you are not a serious fan.}

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