The Chicago Cubs lost a key addition in Masahiro Tanaka, who eventually signed a seven-year deal with the New York Yankees worth $155 million. Without Tanaka, the Cubs lost a key player that could have been great in their starting rotation and maybe even become a future ace. With that, the Cubs secured Baltimore Oriole starter Jason Hammel to a one-year deal last week worth $6 million. Although Hammel is not of the same caliber as Tanaka, he could fill a much-needed middle spot in a faltering Cubs rotation.
Hammel is seven-year veteran who has played for several major league teams, including the Rays, Rockies and the Orioles for the past two seasons. Hammel last year for the Orioles pitched 137.1 innings in 23 starts. He had a 7-8 record and finished with a 1.46 WHIP and a 4.97 ERA. In Hammel’s career, he’s averaged a 4.80 ERA and has a 49-59 record. Overall, Hammel isn’t one of the greatest players out there on the market, but he is a guy that could fare well behind some of the other veterans in the Cubs rotation.
All-star Travis Wood will probably leadoff the line-up next season with right-hander Jeff Samardzija to follow. Hammel, Chris Rusin, and Jake Arietta will follow the two mixed up in the middle. Hammel would make a good middleman, and young southpaw Rusin could be a key fourth man with improvement over the course of next year. Jake Arietta was a pleasant surprise last year after some quality starts toward the end of the season, and he could be a good end to the order if the Cubs give him a chance.
Overall, the Cubs’ starting order is far from perfect. There are going to have to be a lot of changes in order for the Cubs to compete in the pitching category, and this season will be testing ground for these possible starters to see if they work out. Guys like Samardzija, Arietta, and Hammel could be used as trade-bait for prospects next season, giving the chance for the Cubs to start anew with some young arms. If the Cubs want to compete in the pitching game next season, they’ll have to test some new ground with starters and hope the bullpen can seriously improve from last season.