Come Jul. 31, expect the New York Yankees to be active. And right now, they could use another bat in their lineup and pitcher in their rotation.
While a bat is something that would benefit New York greatly down the stretch, a starting hurler might be at the top of their bucket list. Ivan Nova’s out for the season, Michael Pineda was just recently shut down for 10 days, and who knows when C.C. Sabathia is going to return.
Probably the most coveted pitcher on the market will be Chicago Cubs’ ace Jeff Samardzija, but he’ll cost a fortune for the other party to acquire him. Rather, New York should set their sights on the Cubs other formidable pitcher: Jason Hammel.
Hammel, 31, is having himself a solid season for Chicago – considering how awful his team is. And wouldn’t be as expensive a price tag as Samardzija will be.
Through 11 starts this season, Hammel’s compiled a 6-3 record, 2.78 ERA, and struck out 62 hitters. However, what’s arguably more impressive is that hitters have a putrid .187 batting average against him, which ranks second in the majors behind Cincinnati Reds’ ace Johnny Cueto.
Not to mention, Hammel pitched with the Baltimore Orioles last season, so he’s familiar with the A.L. East teams. And with the way teams are hitting in the division right now – with exception to Toronto – Hammel shouldn’t have a difficult time transitioning back to the American League.
A giant 6-foot-6, 225-pound frame, Hammel would easily become New York’s second-best starting pitcher behind Masahiro Tanaka. And if you’re worried about his contract, he’s making a mere $6 million this season, and will become a free agent in the winter.
The better bargain here is to pursue Hammel, because after next season, Samardzija will hit the open market, in which he’ll demand a sizable purse. That, and at least with Hammel you get a guy whose pitched in the A.L. before. Whereas with Samardzija, there’s no idea how he’ll carry over his success from Chicago.
Targeting Hammel may be pivotal though too, because there really won’t be a whole lot of sufficient pitching help come the deadline. Rolling with David Phelps, Vidal Nuno, and Chase Whitley – whose done well but can’t pitch past five innings – is clearly hurting the Yanks. And what happens when Tanaka goes down? What then?
So, Hammel provides insurance in case any other starter should lose time to injury. And he also brings stability should Hiroki Kuroda falter in the latter half of the season.
Tanaka, Hammel, Pineda, Kuroda, and Sabathia sounds a heck of a lot better than Tanaka, Pineda, Kuroda, Sabathia, and Phelps.