With reports coming out that the Cubs already receiving calls on Jason Hammel what better time to look at the potential return the team may receive in order to further stock up their minor league system to bolster the ongoing rebuilding effort. Hammel has undoubtedly been the team’s second best pitcher and has been a nice surprise, ranked second on the team with six wins, seventh in the majors with a 0.98 WHIP, 18th with a 2.81 ERA and has provided 76 strikeouts in 83.1 IP. Hammel mixes a sinker with a four seam fastball and a slider to get hitters out. This season is by far his best as before, he had trouble staying healthy and with walking batters. Some insiders have suggested that because of Hammel’s strong season that the Cubs may be able to get a similar return to Matt Garza, who despite not having any team control beyond the season and not being linked to draft pick compensation, gained the team a sizable haul. However, Hammel does not have quite the track record Garza had. In fact, his career renaissance is more similar to Scott Feldman who the Cubs flipped last year after he had a great first half and is the first trade we will evaluate.
Like Jason Hammel, Scott Feldman had flashes of excellence, but it wasn’t until he came to the Cubs and worked with Chris Bosio that he was able to be more consistent. That reliability led to a deal with the Orioles for Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop. Similarly to Feldman, at the time of the deal, Arrieta and Strop were also unreliable pitchers who had the talent to be better. The same still holds true for the pair, as Strop has been pretty erratic this season and Arrieta who sports just a 2.09 ERA had some issues with walks earlier in the season. If these two can continue to be reliable and get their careers on track, this deal could end up being a win for the Cubs who lack a lot of controllable young pitchers.
Another similar trade that involved a Cubs pitcher was the one where the Rangers traded for Ryan Dempster. Granted, Dempster’s no trade clause complicated the potential return in this trade, but the similarity stems from the fact that Dempster was pitching way above his track record. He was also scheduled to be a free agent after the season and the Cubs were able to net back end pitching prospect Kyle Hendricks and third base prospect Christian Villanueva. Neither player has made it to the majors, but early returns are good on Hendricks who will likely take Hammel’s place in the rotation when he’s traded.
The next trade we will examine is the one that the Dodgers made to acquire former Cubs prospect Ricky Nolasco for the stretch drive from the Miami Marlins for pitchers Angel Sanchez, Steve Ames and Josh Wall. At the time of the trade, Nolasco was having one of his better seasons where his 3.85 ERA finally matched his FIP numbers and he was showing the potential many always knew he had. Also like Hammel, he was scheduled to be a free agent after the season, not to mention the Marlins weren’t willing to pay any of Nolasco’s remaining salary, so the Dodgers didn’t give up too much to acquire him for the stretch run. Ames and Sanchez project to be decent mid round bullpen guys and nothing more.
The potential return on Hammel likely stems from the perception from other teams regarding his ability moving forward. Reports show them intrigued by his career season, but not a guy they would “bet the farm on.” As our analysis has shown, the potential value for Hammel is mixed due to his erratic career. Because Hammel is a bit of a wild card whatever the Cubs end up receiving will likely be the same, young controllable talent that have some warts, but have the ability to become more than that. It’ll be interesting to see what Hammel brings in and what they receive will aid in the rebuilding effort.