Cubs sign Jason Hammel

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Despite rumors to the contrary the Cubs were, in fact, outbid for Masahiro Tanaka, so now Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that they’ve decided to add free agent Jason Hammel to the starting rotation.

Hammel had a career-year for the Orioles in 2012, but resumed being a back-of-the-rotation starter with a 4.97 ERA and 96/48 K/BB ratio in 139 innings last season. His velocity and strikeout rate were both down and the 31-year-old right-hander missed time with forearm problems, in addition to the knee injury that cost him time in 2012.

At one point Hammel was said to be seeking a three- or four-year contract, but Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com says the Cubs got him for a one-year, $6 million deal with another $1 million in potential incentives.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.