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.

Check out Minute Maid Park without Tal’s Hill

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During the offseason, the Astros finally got rid of Tal’s Hill in center field. It was a throwback to older stadiums, some of which had uneven topography — Crosley Field, namely. As unique as it was in the age of cookie cutter sports stadiums, most of us were holding our collective breaths hoping no one ruptured an Achilles or suffered another brutal injury trying to navigate the hill while attempting to catch a fly ball.

We saw what it looked like during reconstruction:

And now, via Julia Morales of ROOT Sports, we see what it looks like after all the work has been done:

The Astros are allowing fans with Lexus Field Club tickets to stand on the new warning track to watch batting practice and shag fly balls as well, Morales notes. Lexus Field Club is where Tal’s Hill used to be.

Good riddance, Tal’s Hill.

Jhoulys Chacin will start Opening Day for the Padres

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Jhoulys Chacin will start on Opening Day, April 3 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. It will be Chacin’s second Opening Day start, the other coming in 2013 with the Rockies against the Brewers. He’ll be the fifth different Padres pitcher in as many years to start on Opening Day.

Chacin, 29, inked a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Padres in December. The right-hander spent the 2016 season with the Braves and Angels, compiling an aggregate 4.81 ERA with a 119/55 K/BB ratio in 144 innings.

Lin notes that Chacin will be followed in the rotation by Clayton Richard and Jered Weaver. It will be an interesting rotation, to say the least, as it will arguably be the worst in baseball.