The free agent starting pitching market just got a little bit stronger.
Chicago declined Jason Hammel’s option Sunday, officially making him a free agent. Hammel helped the Cubs reach the World Series, though the organization might not have an issue moving forward with its depth.
Miami likely already started its search for starting pitching help and is in need of at least two starters before Spring Training begins. Hammel could prove to be a valuable option.
Before the Cubs declined Hammel’s option, the Marlins might have been considering Jeremy Hellickson, Ivan Nova and Rich Hill. Now, there is another candidate for the Marlins to consider.
Hammel had an effective season, pitching to a 3.83 ERA and 4.48 FIP over 166.2 innings. He made 30 starts and won exactly half of them, proving to be a durable member of Chicago’s starting staff.
Though Hammel’s career numbers aren’t notable—he’s pitched to a career 4.42 ERA and 4.22 FIP—he’s posted a 3.79 ERA since joining the Cubs in 2015. Hammel isn’t the overpowering pitcher the Marlins have been known to be fond of. However, he could pitch late into games.
Hammel’s club option for next season was worth $12 million, but given the current pitching landscape, he almost certainly would receive a deal worth more than that annually.
While the Marlins are more likely to spend big on a closer-type arm than a starter, according to MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro, Hammel might be reasonably priced. Hellickson and Hill could receive larger contracts.
Because the Marlins need a pair of starters to supplement Tom Koehler, Wei-Yin Chen and Adam Conley in the rotation, signing Hammel wouldn’t solve all of the club’s pitching depth issues. It could be the next best step, though.