With Spring Training just around the corner, there's a number of free agents who haven't signed with a team yet that can make a difference for several ball clubs. While the market for starting pitching was incredibly thin and the trade market being expensive (just look at the model for the Chris Sale trade), there a few mid-rotation starting pitchers that are still available. One pitcher that comes to mind is Jason Hammel.
It's a little surprising that Hammel is still on the market and has received very little interest, but in the past two seasons for the Chicago Cubs, he's posted a 25-17 record with a 3.79 ERA in 61 starts. However, after missing his final start of the regular season and being left off the Cubs' postseason roster due to elbow tightness, teams don't want to commit beyond one year for a pitcher with an injury history and his stuff most likely declining. Hammel has been fairly consistent throughout his career, throwing 170 innings with an ERA around 4.00 and has kept it below four over the last three seasons. He is a fly ball pitcher with a 38.1 fly ball rate last season, so teams looking to sign him will have to take that into consideration and see if his pitching style fits their ballpark. However, if he wants to pitch next season, he may have to lower his expectations accept a one-year deal, not a multi-year contract. Here are a few teams that I believe Hammel will fit well in:
The Mariners make the most sense to sign Jason Hammel. After trading Taijuan Walker to the Arizona Diamondbacks and losing Wade Miley and Wade LeBlanc to free agency, the Mariners back end of their rotation remains a question. He doesn't have good stats pitching in the American League, but he should get another chance since his pitching style would fit well at Safeco Field. Hammel is also a Port Orchard native and graduated from South Kitsap High School. It makes too much sense for this signing not to become a reality.
The Astros are another young team in the American League West trying to make a run for the playoffs. While their starting rotation looks good as it is, they can add depth to their starting rotation and bullpen at the same time. By adding Hammel to the rotation, they can move Mike Fiers to the bullpen, where he has seen action before. Even if the Astros aren't looking to sign any more free agents this offseason, it should at least be on the table as Hammel would also provide veteran leadership to a relatively young rotation and clubhouse.
If you look close enough, the Marlins are trying to emulate the Kansas City Royals guide to their World Series run in 2014 and 2015 by having an average rotation with a strong bullpen. The Marlins signed Edinson Volquez hoping he can improve from his 2016 campaign posting a 10-11 record with a 5.37 ERA. They also added Brad Ziegler to their bullpen, forming a reliable bullpen trio with closer A.J. Ramos and Kyle Barraclough. The top of the rotation appears to be set with Adam Conley, Tom Koehler, and Wei-Yin Chen and although they have options for the fourth and fifth starters with Jeff Locke, Jose Urena, and Justin Nicolino, Hammel could remove some of the pressure on the younger guys and provide some stability at the top of their rotation.