Jason Hammel

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Mark Trumbo #45 of the Baltimore Orioles runs the bases after hitting a two-run home run in the fourth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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Report: Orioles could prioritize draft pick over Mark Trumbo

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The Orioles haven’t ruled out Mark Trumbo‘s return to Baltimore in 2017, but a recent interview with ESPN’s Jim Bowden suggests that their interests may lie elsewhere. Per Bowden, Baltimore GM Dan Duquette would rather pass on re-signing the 30-year-old slugger in order to net a first-round draft pick, which would be offered to the club in the event that Trumbo signs elsewhere in the league.

Despite Trumbo’s top-tier numbers in 2016 (.256/.316/.533, 47 homers in 667 PA), the market has been slow to develop for the outfielder/DH, perhaps in part, as Bowden suggests, because of the high-end draft pick attached to any potential contract. The Athletics, Mariners, Rangers, Rockies and Indians have all been linked to him at some point this winter, though the Orioles appeared to be closest to signing him until a potential four-year, $50 million deal was nixed in mid-December.

MLB Network’s Jim Duquette added that the Orioles are also interested in adding some veteran pitching depth (including veteran right-hander Jason Hammel) and outfield defense, which could lead their focus away from Trumbo in the months to come.

Hot Stove Reset: The top 10 remaining free agents on the market

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 17:  Jose Bautista #19 of the Toronto Blue Jays bats in the third inning against the Cleveland Indians during game three of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 17, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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Hi, everyone. Hope your holidays were happy.

If you’re like me you ate too much, drank too much, slept too little and spent too much money and now you’re contemplating starting the new year with mindfulness and an effort to embody the concepts of simplicity, minimalism, temperance, frugality and overall healthy habits. Then the football playoffs will start and you’ll drink a lot of beer while dipping chicken wings in blue cheese dressing and vow to start again in the spring. We should probably just skip this whole mindful period and order a pizza.

If you’re also like me, the lack of hot stove news in the past couple of weeks has caused your baseball brain to atrophy. To remedy that — and to take our minds off of our personal failings — let us take a fresh look at the free agent market to see who remains and what, if anything, is happening with them at the moment. Other than their experiencing sheer panic over not having a job:

Jose Bautista: There have been conflicting reports as to whether Bautista is talking to the Blue Jays or not, but there seems to be at least some momentum for the slugger to return to Toronto. It may be on a short deal, possibly even a one-year deal, as Bautista’s sub-par and injury-plagued 2016 season harmed his chances at a big long term pact. If Bautista is amenable to a one-year deal, however, there are a lot of clubs who might be willing to sign him, as the biggest question about him isn’t whether a healthy Bautista can be useful — he likely has a lot of dingers left in that bat — but whether anyone wants to commit to the 36-year-old for multiple years.

Mark Trumbo: There were rumored talks with both the Orioles and the Rockies for the 2016 Home Run King, but those talks have been quiet for a while. It would be amazing to see Trumbo in Colorado — he’s hit eight homers in 12 games there — but his low OBP and poor defense would make it hard for an NL team to sign him (he got the start at DH 59 times in 2016). Of course the Rockies do things like give Ian Desmond multiple years to play positions he’s never really played before, so maybe they don’t care.

Matt Wieters: I’m so old that I remember a time when Georgia Tech alum Wieters wasn’t reported to be “coveted” by the Atlanta Braves, but it was a very, very long time ago so it remains fuzzy nonetheless. The Diamondbacks and Nationals have been reported to be keeping an eye on him as well. His offense took a dip in 2016, but he was durable and remains a top defensive catcher. At 30, you figure a player with that profile has, approximately, 27 years left in Major League Baseball.

Mike Napoli: Since Edwin Encarnacion signed with Cleveland, Napoli has been reported to be very close to a deal with the Texas Rangers, for whom he has played on two previous occasions. The smart money has him going back to Arlington, but the Oakland A’s, who reportedly made a big offer to Encarnacion could be in the mix as well, even if it’s only as a source of bargaining power for Napoli.

Jason Hammel: Hammel posted a 3.83 ERA in 2016 in 166.2 innings for the Cubs last season, but had some elbow issues late and saw a degradation in his strikeout and walk rates. That, it is reported, is limiting him to one-year offers. Just about anyone could use a guy like Hammel on a short deal, of course, so it may be a bit before Hammel (a) figures out if he’s cool with a one-year deal; and (b) decides among what would likely be several offers for said one-year deal.

Michael Saunders and Brandon Moss: It’s been pretty quiet for the market for these two so far this offseason. It makes sense, of course, as they are viewed as fallbacks for the clubs which don’t get the Edwin Encarnacions, Jose Bautistas and Mark Trumbos of the world. Saunders made the All-Star team after hitting .298/.372/.551 in the first half of the year, but stumbled to a line of .178/.282/.357 in 185 at-bats after the break, along with poor defense. Moss is what he is: a lot of power with low OBP and defensive limitations. A poor man’s Trumbo, I suppose.

Travis Wood: The lefty worked exclusively out of the bullpen for the Cubs in 2016, but started a bit the year before and, of course, was a full-time starter before that. Rumor has it that he wants to start again. If that’s so, it’s more likely second division teams would be his likely landing spot, while true contenders would likely want him to work out of the pen. He throws with his left arm, however, so there are approximately 30 teams which likely would have a place for him. His deal won’t be a big one, but he’ll probably sign when he wants to sign as opposed to having to play musical chairs like the remaining second-tier sluggers will.

Pedro Alvarez: Did I mention second-tier sluggers? I dunno, maybe Alvarez is a third tier. He hits right-handed pitching, is severely compromised against lefties and cannot play defense at all. Is there a place for that? Probably, but it’ll be on a short, low-money deal. If Trumbo goes elsewhere, he could return to Baltimore. The Royals have had a reported interest too, having lost Kendrys Morales to the Jays.

Jonathan Papelbon: He has had a mysterious few months, reportedly rejecting offers to work as a setup man in a couple of places after his release by the Nationals and, early in December, reportedly not engaging with any teams due to an unspecified personal matter. There’s a chance he could be toast after his poor 2016 season, but there’s a better chance that some team will take a chance on him to see if he can’t return to form in 2017.

Report: Teams won’t give Jason Hammel more than a one-year contract

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 24: Jason Hammel #39 of the Chicago Cubs stands in the dugout after being taken out of the game against the St. Louis Cardinals during the third inning at Wrigley Field on September 24, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
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Free agent right-hander Jason Hammel is having difficulty finding a landing spot this winter, according to a report by FanRag Sports’ John Perrotto. “Many teams” appear reluctant to take a flyer on the 34-year-old, despite his productive run with the Cubs last season, and Perrotto notes that the veteran starter is unlikely to net anything beyond a one-year contract heading into 2017.

Hammel pitched to a 3.83 ERA in 2016, supplemented by a 7.8 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 166 2/3 innings with Chicago. While not a career-worst year by any means, his strikeout and walk rates took a hit in 2016, followed by a subsequent dip in his overall value from 2.4 fWAR in 2015 to 1.5 in 2016. This may signal the start of Hammel’s decline to some teams, Perrotto speculates, especially when coupled with the righty’s late-season elbow issues.

It’s unlikely that Hammel will reach a deal before the calendar flips to 2017, but it’s not for lack of trying that he hasn’t fielded any serious offers yet. The righty switched up his representation last week, dropping Octagon in favor of ACES. While Cubs president Theo Epstein vouched for Hammel’s health back in November (albeit before announcing the decision to decline his $12 million option, via FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal), it’s likely not enough to inspire a multi-year deal for the injury-prone veteran.