Over the past couple of seasons, Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein have been able to sign low-end free agents and flip them at the trade deadline for relatively good prospects. Scott Feldman is a prime example of this as the Chicago Cubs took a chance that Feldman would have a bounceback year and bring value at the trade deadline last season. Sure enough, he had a very good first half and Hoyer and Epstein traded him to the Baltimore Orioles for Pedro Strop and Jake Arrieta, two pitchers that have fit in nicely and seem to be mainstays on the Cubs pitching staff. A piece that looks as though it will bring valuable return this season is Jason Hammel.
Hammel signed a one-year, $6 million deal this past winter and it is looking as though this was a great investment by the Cubs. Coming into the season the Cubs were hopeful that Hammel could replicate what Feldman did last season. This did not seem like a good probability considering before this year Hammel never had an ERA below 3.40. This year has been a completely different story as Hammel has a career-low 2.98 ERA over 16 starts thus far. Hammel is on pace for over 200 IP which would be the first time in his career that he’s reached the 200 inning plateau. Hammel is also on pace for an astounding 196 SO according to ESPN. This would be 55 more strikeouts than the most Hammel has ever had in a season. What Hammel has given the Cubs is more than they could have ever asked for.
Given the numbers that Hammel is putting up, the Cubs would be wise to trade Hammel and trade him soon. Hammel is not the type of pitcher that will bring the Cubs elite talent in a trade like Jeff Samardzija may, but he could bring the Cubs similar talent to what Feldman did last summer. This would be a great scenario for the Cubs as once again a relatively inexpensive offseason signing would bring the organization young talent at the trade deadline. Hammel has also expressed an interest in resigning with the Cubs in the offseason if they were to trade him. This could make trading him that much easier for the organization as they know that when the winter comes, Hammel will surely be interested in a return to Chicago. If the Cubs want to get a good return on Hammel, they must trade him as soon as possible as his track record shows that he may not be able to keep this up for an entire season.