The Chicago Cubs have signed former Baltimore Orioles pitcher Jason Hammel to a one year, $6 million deal to provide starting rotation help for the 2014 season. The deal is pending a physical exam, which as we have learned, is not necessarily a foregone conclusion. In odd twists, both the Cubs and Orioles have ties to failed physicals on more than one occasion this offseason.
The Orioles had a deal lined up for closer Grant Balfour before an apparent failed physical squashed that move. Last month, the Orioles also 86′ed a deal with former Cub Tyler Colvin, once again citing a failed physical. A third nearly lost deal involved former Cub pitcher Matt Garza going to the Milwaukee Brewers. Is there something to this trend of failed exams, or is just an unusual out-clause that teams have when they get cold feet before signing on the dotted line?
Assuming that all systems are a go, Hammel will be the third former Oriole on the Cubs’ roster, joining Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop. The Cubs and Orioles do have a history with each other involving trades and signings in the past decade. It was Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger going to Baltimore last year in exchange for Arrieta and Strop. In 2005, Chicago sent slugger Sammy Sosa to the O’s, while other outfielders to play in both cities include Felix Pie and Corey Patterson. The pipeline between Chicago and Baltimore even extends to the front office, as Andy MacPhail has worked for both organizations.
On the field, Hammel figures to be the No. 4 man in the starting rotation, with Arrieta sliding to the fifth spot. Hammel is a 5-pitch pitcher with a good strikeout rate that does work within the Cubs game plan. The challenge for Chicago will be not overworking him, as Hammel is coming off of a season where he missed some time due to an arm injury.
Hammel could be a pitcher that finds some success at the Friendly Confines, as he is developing into a sinker ball pitcher. Keeping that ball in the park will be vital when the Wrigley Field winds start to gust. Reasonable expectations could be 25 starts, seven wins and a mid 3.00 ERA in a 160 innings pitched. Of course, all of that is pending that pesky physical exam.
Nick Schaeflein is a Chicago Cubs writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.