Cubs Announce One-Year Deals with Hammel and McDonald, Arrieta Not Expected to Start Season on Time

Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Rick Renteria met with the media on Thursday from Cubs Park and announced the signings of right handed pitchers Jason Hammel and James McDonald.

The Cubs signed Hammel to a one-year contract for $6 million that includes an incentives package for another $1 million. McDonald signed a Major League contract with a base salary of $1 million for 2014 if he makes the club out of Spring Training. McDonald’s deal is not guaranteed, the same as any arbitration eligible player and includes an incentives package. If he sticks with the team, McDonald is under club control through the 2015 season.

The Cubs signed McDonald for rotation depth and said Thursday he is healthy and ready to compete this spring.

Jake Arrieta experienced tightness in his shoulder this winter and the Cubs have “slowed him down.” A timetable was not given on when he will be able to pitch in games and he “will be late throwing bullpens in camp” according to Jed Hoyer. Jake Arrieta has resumed throwing and is feeling good but he is not expected to start the regular season on time.

Not only did the Cubs add James McDonald for pitching depth, but Carlos Villanueva, as previously reported, will be stretched out as a starter this spring.

The Cubs have moved Justin Grimm to the bullpen. He will not be used as a starter in Spring Training. Grimm was the first name mentioned by Rick Renteria when he discussed the depth the Cubs now have in the pen. Renteria also mentioned Pedro Strop, James Russell and Wesley Wright. Renteria reiterated what he said at the convention that Jose Veras will begin the year as the Cubs’ closer. The other roles in the pen will be determined throughout the spring.

Arodys Vizcaino is healthy and ready to pitch. The Cubs plan on taking it slow with him to make sure he is ready since he has not pitched in two years. Vizcaino will solely be used out of the bullpen. Kyuji Fujikawa is throwing on flat ground from 120 feet and could throw off a mound soon. The Cubs are hoping he is ready to pitch in June.

With the additions of Jason Hammel and James McDonald, the Cubs 40-man roster stands at 40 players.

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  • cubtex

    We will see a lot of different names starting games for the Cubs this year. There is a very good chance Hammel will miss some time with injury this year as well. If Shark gets dealt in June we will see Rusin,Grimm,possibly Hendricks,McDonald,possibly Ramirez, and others get some starts. Heck, maybe they could give Loux a start to make BoardRider happy :)

    • mutantbeast

      Loux cant throw the cb he had in college, thats why he struggles now. He did a 1980 Steve Stone in college, no one could hit his curve, so he kept throwing it. Arm Surgery soon followed.

  • raymondrobertkoenig

    Too bad about Arrieta. I was hoping for big things this season.

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  • VBCubs

    Well that kinda sucks Arrieta won’t start the season off, but hopefully it’s not too long. If things go right and people stay healthy until June, I really don’t mind this bullpen we have at all. Definitely a strength this year.

    1 Jeff Samardjiza
    2 Travis Wood
    3 Edwin Jackson
    4 Jake Arrieta
    5 Jason Hammel

    CP Jose Veras
    SU Pedro Strop
    SU James Russell
    MR Kyuji Fujikawa
    MR Arodys Vizcaino
    MR Wesley Wright
    LR Carlos Villanueva

    • jtrain23

      I’m with you on Arrieta. I was/am really excited to see what he brings to the table this year. He seemed to have great stuff last year and could make a nice starter if he can avoid the struggle with control that seems to haunt him at times.

      Shoulder tightness is not something that you want to hear with a guy like him. He relies a lot on the power of his arm and is a smaller built guy as it is. You just hope that these injuries aren’t a sign of bigger problems and do not linger.

  • jtrain23

    I don’t mind our bullpen at all. Especially when you throw in the possibility of Fujikawa and Vizcaino when healthy. It has been a liability for us in the past two years. The only thing that has kept the spotlight away from how awful the bullpen has been is that the rest of the team has been pretty awful a lot of the time as well.

    I believe that this year’s bullpen with net us some wins. I can’t count the amount of leads that have been squandered in the 6th, 7th, 8th innings that past couple of seasons. I still think this team is not close to competing, but i could see us picking up 8-10 more wins strictly based on our bullpen.

    • mutantbeast

      Cubs might have won 75-80 games last year w/o MarmHo and Camp blowing games late. Think of it-Cubs had 30HR last year from the 3b position. If 3b and RF can repeat last yrs power #s and improve on RBIs . this can be a .500 club, with lots of promise on the farm.

      • jtrain23

        I would be happy to see that. I know the goal is not to be a .500 team in the long run, but I feel like having that kind of season would be huge for the organization.

        Although it would likely leave the team out of contention for any playoff positions, it would provide the current major league roster with something positive to build on for 2015 and beyond. All of this losing in the major league has to beat these guys down and be detrimental to the big picture, regardless of how much talent is in the system.

  • Zonk

    Is it me, or does it seem like a spate of injuries are announced right at this time, as pitchers come back to camp and report things that are not quite right. Mariners have a couple of those (Walker, Ishikawa), but seems like every team has a couple injured camp reports

    • TheWrongGuy

      When pitcher and catchers report they do physicals. So this is the reason a large amount of injuries hit news.

  • BigJonLilJon

    Guess we know now why Mcdonald signed a major league deal. They knew Arrieta was having issues. Not a bad thing. Bullpen will be a huge improvement now and depth will be there when they flip pitchers at the deadline.

    • Eugene Debs

      Outside of Samadzija, who can we flip for anything more than a “thank you?”

      • Vivid_Reality

        I expect that Villanueva, Russell, and Hammel will all be moved. None of them are going to bring home a blue chip player but they could each net a fringy top 100 prospect with upside. I could also see Schierholtz, Sweeney, and Barney going out the door on the hitters side.

  • Ripsnorter1

    There you have it: the reason we signed an “innings eater.” Jason Hammels has a job only because Arrieta went down. Shoulder injuries are bad, bad news.

    • Tony_Hall

      Probably more why we signed McDonald. And I get Hammels isn’t exciting, but McDonald is even less.

      Also did you notice Grimm is going straight to the bullpen.

      • Ripsnorter1

        I missed the Grimm thing. Thanks

        • Tony_Hall

          I was kind of wanting him to keep starting, but you can have guys go to the bullpen and still bring them back to starters.

          • SuzyS

            yes, but it’s easier the other way…stretched as a starter…reverting to reliever.

          • Tony_Hall

            That is probably why they told him to come into camp ready to start. In case of injuries and/or depending on who they signed.

          • SuzyS

            Agreed. Either way it’s not good news about Arrieta…I was looking forward to seeing how he developed.

          • Tony_Hall

            I was as well. I hope he gets back soon.

          • TheWrongGuy

            I remember last years camp and Feldman started out slow as well. I don’t believe it was injury related but that worked out well. Hopefully Arrieta can turn this around and this not become an issue any bigger than it is.

          • Tony_Hall

            Feldman’s first few starts weren’t that great either. Once he kept his arm more in line instead of getting it so far from his body he started pitching better.

          • SuzyS

            In any case, we should see some of the “prospects” ie Hendricks/CJ etc get closer to a Wrigley debut. This year is really about auditioning for next year…and beyond.
            I expect the Cubs to be pretty active on all levels to develop a solid rotation for next year.
            My expectations for this team is that it will look a lot better at the end of the year then it does to begin with…followed by an active off season.

    • Eugene Debs

      He’s already throwing again, so I’m not sure this is a “bad, bad news” injury. Then again, as Cubs fans , we know a little soreness can turn into Mark Prior.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Did you say Scott Baker?

        Oh. I misunderstood you. Yeah, Arodyz Vizcaino, you say. Yeah, a little pain. Won’t last long. What did you say? He hasn’t pitched in two years? Sure, he’ll be our #3 starter this ST for sure, for sure. Another great Theo trade. Got a winner, got a winner, for sure, for sure. Huh?

        Dontrell Willis? He ought to make our rotation this ST also.

        Did you say Kerry Wood again? Huh?

        What has Sandy Koufax got to do with Dontrell Willis’ boulder? Huh?

      • Ripsnorter1

        Clayton Richards.

  • Tom U

    A story just in from the Schaumburg Boomers: Team Captain Frank Pfister has retired.

    Pfister is a class act, both as a team leader and with the fans. He has accepted a front office position with the Cincinnati Reds. A true example of a nice guy finishing first.

    • BillyFinT

      Tom, did you complete your series of stories about Schaumburg? I recalled that you had two articles, but perhaps not one to finish the tale? It’s a good story, so I don’t want to miss anything!

      • Tom U

        It wasn’t really a series, just an occasional look at minor league ball outside the affiliates Myself and the management for the Boomers have a good working relationship now. My only regret was that I became seriously ill and missed the opportunity to see them win the championship.

        • BillyFinT

          Good to know that the Boomers are active and well, and established long-term relationship with more who care. I would have never heard about them if you haven’t written that. I might never have a chance to visit Schaumberg again, so it’s good to know what baseball’s going on there. God bless.

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