Hot Stove Digest: Jason Hammel's market remains surprisingly quiet

Welcome to The Stew’s Hot Stove Digest, our daily rundown of MLB news, rumors and gossip for Hot Stove season. Here you’ll find a quick recap of all the day’s action and other fun stuff from around the internet that we think is worth your time.

HAMMEL TIME ON HOLD: Free agent Jason Hammel is having a difficult time finding work this winter. It’s reached the point where his lack of employment is threatening to carry over into spring training.

The 34-year-old right-hander is regarded as the best pitcher still left on the market. According to Jeff Passan’s Ultimate Free Agent, he’s the second best free agent remaining overall, behind only Matt Weiters. Yet for some reason he’s struggled to find a deal to his liking. There are no indications that’s getting close to changing either.

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So what’s holding him up?

Naturally, it goes right to what Hammel and his agent, Alan Nero, think he’s worth. According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, Hammel believes he should receive “at least a three-year deal.” He also notes that Hammel is believed to have turned down a one-year deal with a $10M option for 2018 from Seattle very early in the offseason.

Teams looking for help in the rotation can still land Jason Hammel. (Getty Images)
Teams looking for help in the rotation can still land Jason Hammel. (Getty Images)

That indicates Hammel has been betting on himself without a payoff so far.

When the Chicago Cubs declined Hammel’s $12M option in December, team president Theo Epstein explained it as giving Hammel an opportunity to land a longer deal elsewhere. In some ways, that seemed possible given that Hammel had just completed three straight seasons with at least 165 innings and sub 4.00 ERAs. But it may have also inflated Hammel’s sense of his own value, which has probably been offset by age and a lack of true top tier stuff.

It’s an interesting predicament that he’s in. One that highlights how unpredictable free agency is, and why some guys are wise to avoid it.

Sooner or later Hammel’s plight will be resolved. The deal may not be as good as what Seattle offered, but he should still make decent money. As for the team signing him, they’re going to get a good pitcher with a lot left in the tank. Perhaps more importantly, they’re going to get a good pitcher that’s motivated. [Boston Globe]

NO RETURN: As noted, catcher Matt Wieters is also still looking for a home this winter. Some have suggested a return to Baltimore could still happen, but’s Brittany Ghiroli writes that “would be sentimental, but not practical,” given the team’s current set up. The Orioles will roll with Welington Castillo and Caleb Jospeh at catcher this season, while waiting for No. 2 prospect Chance Sisco to develop. []

NOW’S THE TIME: Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi suggests now is the time for the Toronto Blue Jays to explore extensions with Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez. [Sportsnet]

DONE DEAL: The Angels have signed infielder/outfielder Dustin Ackley to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Ackley posted an abysmal .148/.243/.148 battling line with the Yankees last season before undergoing surgery on a torn right shoulder labrum in June. [@Angels]

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COMING SOON: The market for veteran left-hander Travis Wood is reportedly heating up now that several other lefties have found homes. Wood is drawing interesting from teams in both leagues, including as a starter, but there’s no word if any are interested in playing him in left field. [@jcrasnick]

A WINNER IS WILMER: Shortstop Wilmer Flores won his arbitration case against the Mets, earning him a $2.2M salary in 2017. The Mets had offered $1.8M. [@JonHeyman]

NO ROOM: After signing Ian Desmond and re-signing Mark Reynolds to play first base, the Rockies are not expected to make a run at Byung-ho Park. [@harding_at_mlb]

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!