The Royals introduced the newest member of the team, announcing the signing of pitcher Jason Hammel to a two-year contract on Wednesday. Hammel admitted it had been an odd off-season, where he had found little interest in his services despite coming off a 15-win season with the Cubs last year.
“It was a strange off-season. It really didn’t go according to plan,” he marveled, adding “I feel like I landed where I should.”
He offered his condolences to the family of Yordano Ventura, acknowledging that had it not been for the tragic death of the pitcher, Hammel would not be a member of the Royals. General Manager Dayton Moore agreed, saying the Royals were not in the starting pitching market, but were surprised Hammel remained out there.
Dayton Moore: "Once we got through the shock of Yordano, you have to move forward...we have a fan base we are responsible to." #Royals— Andrew Carter (@Andrew__Carter) February 8, 2017
Moore lauded the Glass family for authorizing the deal, saying they owed it to the fans and the group of players in the clubhouse.
"Mr. Glass said 'do what you need to do to make this team better."— Royals Review (@royalsreview) February 8, 2017
Moore said the deal completes the rotation, adding the bullpen will have some competition, but suggesting the team might look for opportunities to adding depth in spring training.
Jason Hammel has had some inconsistencies in his career, but has really come on lately. He is one of just thirteen pitchers in baseball to pitch at least 150 innings with an ERA under 4.00 in each of the last three seasons. Last year, he posted a 3.83 ERA in 166 2⁄3 innings for the eventual World Champion Chicago Cubs.
“I like to think of my career path as aging like a fine wine.”
Hammel did suffer an elbow injury in late September, and was left off the post-season roster, but Hammel insisted he was healthy to pitch in the playoffs, but that he was just left off the roster for baseball reasons.
“I’m 100% healthy and I have been. I wasn’t on the post-season roster because we were a really good team. I missed my last start but I was actually able to make that start,” explaining that he was being saved to be possibly ready for the post-season.
Hammel was reminded often that he threw the final pitch of the 2014 Wild Card game as a member of the Oakland Athletics, that Salvador Perez drilled down the third base line for the game-winning hit. He said he was happy to be moving to a pitcher-friendly park and had admired the Royals franchise from the others side.
Hammel: "I'm really honored to put on the Royal blue." #Royals— Andrew Carter (@Andrew__Carter) February 8, 2017
Later on “The Drive” on KCSP 610, Hammel was reminded of his potato chip treatment to address his cramps last season. Hammel said he was shocked by how similar the clubhouse mentality was to his experience with the Cubs, having talked to Duffy and Ian Kennedy, saying that Duffy had already asked him if he was “ready to get weird.”
Hammel joins a rotation with Duffy, Kennedy, Jason Vargas, and most likely a competition between Nate Karns, Chris Young, Kyle Zimmer, and Mike Minor for the fifth-starting job.
“I want to join the guys that are going to be winners. I see a lot of good things for the future.”