The Cubs and pitcher Jason Hammel have agreed to a one-year, $6 million contract, per media reports. The 31-year-old Hammel spent the 2013 campaign with the Baltimore Orioles.
The Washington native went 7-8 with a 4.97 ERA and a 1.457 WHIP (85 ERA+) in 26 games (23 starts) last season, but is just one year removed from a 8-6 record, 3.43 ERA, and 1.237 WHIP 2012. Over his career, Hammel has a 6.5 K/9 and a 3.1 BB/9, both serviceable numbers. His career 45.2% ground-ball percentage good. In 2012, when Hammel posted the highest ERA+ of his career, his ground-ball percentage was at 53.2%. In 2013, he posted the worst ground-ball rate of his career, leading to the second-worst ERA+ of his career (min. 20 appearances). If Hammel can post a better ground-ball rate in 2014, the Cubs may have found a gem for their rotation.
This is a very nice deal by the Cubs. They were able to add cheap rotation depth, and on Hammel's best day, he can be excellent. In a market where starting pitching is not cheap (Ricky Nolasco was paid nearly $50 million), the Cubs made a nice signing that could really pan out to be a very good deal.
Third baseman Michael Young has retired from baseball at the age of 37, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Rosenthal notes that Young had three offers, including one from the Dodgers, to continue playing in 2014, but he would like to spend more time with his family. Young will retire as a Ranger, who will hold a press conference for him tomorrow at 4 PM in Texas.
Young was originally chosen by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 5th round of the 1997 draft. In 2000, the California native was traded to the Texas Rangers, where he spent 13 years with the club, before finishing his career out with the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers. Young is a lifetime .300 hitter; he has tallied 2,375 hits. The seven-time all star also won the batting title in 2005, and has led the league in hits in 2005 and 2011. Before retiring, Young was 8th-highest active player in hits and 16th-highest in batting average.
Young was the face of the Rangers for a long time - his leadership and personality were unmatched and he is known as one of the "classiest" players in the game today. Young will not only be missed by the Rangers organization and fans, but by baseball fans everywhere. His heart, hustle, and attitude was one of the best in the game. He not only was a good player, but he played the game the right way.
It's hard to know if Young will make the Hall of Fame, but he will definitely be considered. Personally, I believe he should go in to the Hall for his heart, hustle, and leadership. He was a great player as well. I just do not know if the writers feel the same way about him. He never reached 3,000 hits and never really got to a Hall of Fame "standard." But, his longetivity was amazing, and his heart was right with it. Best of luck in retirement, Michael Young.
The Royals and pitcher Bruce Chen have come in agreement on a contract, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Chris Cotillo has reported that Chen's deal with the Royals is a one-year contract that includes a mutual option for the 2015 season. Chen has been a very good swingman over his career, pitching in both the starters' and relivers' role.
The 36-year-old enjoyed success in the 2013 campaign, pitching to a 9-4 record with a 3.27 ERA and a 1.182 WHIP in 34 games (15 starts). Although Chen did not rack up a ton of strikeouts (5.8 K/9) or keep the ball on the ground (27.7 ground-ball percentage), he did a good job of limiting home runs (6.7% of fly balls went for homers). Though that may be a red flag for many, these numbers aren't far off of his career statistics. The Panama native has had a very healthy career, going 80-76 with a 4.49 ERA in 385 games (218 starts) in 15 years with the Royals, Braves, Orioles, Mets, Phillies, Red Sox, and Rangers.
Chen should continue to be an asset to the Royals pitching staff and can step into the rotation for injuries or other issues. Chen made an AL-high 34 starts in 2012.
Outfielder and first baseman Lance Berkman has confirmed that he will not be returning to the Major Leagues in 2014, and that he will be retiring, reports Richard Justice of MLB.com.
In 2013, the soon to be 38-year-old hit .242/.340/.359 with 6 home runs and 34 RBI in 73 games with the Texas Rangers. Over Berkman's 15 year career, he has hit .293/.406/.537 with 366 home runs and 1,234 RBI. The Texas native was originally drafted by the Houston Astros with the 16th overall pick in the 1997 draft. He spent 12 seasons with the Astros, before heading to the Yankees, Cardinals, and Rangers for his final three years.
Berkman's last home run came against Athletics' pitcher Tommy Malone and his final hit came off of Felix Hernandez. He ended his career on an eight game no-hit streak.
Despite Berkman's excellent power (career .243 isolated power), he walked quite a bit (15.4 BB%). Like most power hitting players, Berkman struck out often (16.6 K%), but ended up having a fantastic career (55.8 career WAR). Many fans will be sad to see Lance Berkman go into retirement.
Thirty-seven year old pitcher A.J. Burnett will continue to pitch in 2014, reports Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Sawchik noted that Burnett is willing to pitch for another team besides the Pirates.
The news is coming in a timely manner as baseball gets closer to beginning Spring Training. With many of the top free agents still on the market, Burnett adds yet another option for teams looking for starters. It's interesting that Burnett would decide to pitch after the Pirates have not offered Burnett the contract he was looking for. Many speculated that it was time for retirement for the Arkansas native.
Burnett has reportedly decided to give it another go. And who could blame him? The former Mets 8th round selection (1995) pitched brilliantly in 2013, going 10-11 with a 3.30 ERA in 30 starts for the Pirates. He showed few, if any, signs of age. He was able to keep the ball on the ground (56.5 percent ground-ball rate) and still strike out an immense amount of hitters (9.85 K/9) while walking batters at a relatively low rate (3.16 BB/9). These numbers should really help Burnett's stock on the free agent market, regardless of his age.
Earlier in the offseason, Burnett was willing to play for teams within a close proximity of his Maryland home. It's unknown if that still holds true, but if it did, Burnett's options could be narrowed to the Phillies and Orioles, with the Orioles being the favorite to land the pitcher. Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun believes that Burnett "would be at the top of the club's [Orioles'] list." Sawchik noted that the Phillies have also expressed interest.
Consider the Rangers to be a dark horse in the Burnett race, due to the loss of pitcher Derek Holland just a few weeks ago. Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas reported that the Rangers have some interest in Burnett.
Burnett joins a starting pitching market that includes Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Bronson Arroyo. Expect all of them to sign quickly, as Spring Training is right around the corner.