KANSAS CITY, M.O. – The Royals added Jason Hammel to their starting rotation after signing him to a 2-year deal worth $16 million and a mutual option for 2019. Hammel, 34, is coming off a strong 2016 campaign, ending it with his first World Series championship as a member of the Chicago Cubs.
To open up room for Hammel on the 40-man roster, the Royals traded minor-league pitching prospect Alec Mills to the Cubs in exchange for outfielder Donnie Dewees, a second-round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft.
Hammel is a big signing for the Royals after the tragic death of Yordano Ventura. He is coming off a career-high in wins after posting a 15-10 record and 3.83 ERA in 2016. He will most likely be put in the third spot in the starting rotation, with Ian Kennedy and Danny Duffy occupying the top two positions.
This is a sigh of relief for Hammel after a very stressful offseason, being signed just five days before the Royals’ pitchers and catchers report to spring training. After Chicago declined his $12 million team option, Hammel became a free agent, and teams tended to avoid him due to minor elbow problems which kept him out of postseason play, despite Hammel’s claim that he was healthy.
“So the fact of the matter is I’m 100 percent healthy and I had been. I wasn’t on the postseason roster because we had a really good team. And I missed my last start, but I was actually able to make that start, but we discussed that it would be better to not make that start than risk injury and not be available for the playoffs. It’s kind of an embarrassment of riches, I guess, if you got a 15-game winner not even active on the postseason roster,” said Hammel to the Kansas City Star.
As for the Mills trade, this is surprising to people in the Royals community. Mills was the 19th best prospect in the Royals’ organization going into this season, but they decided to go in a different direction and acquire a young, speedy outfielder in Dewees.
Dewees only played in low-A and high-A class ball last season, but the lefty showcased his speed at this level, racking up 14 triples and stealing 31 bases. He seems to be a promising prospect, both offensively and defensively, despite a weak throwing arm from the outfield.
The Royals have had a very busy offseason in an effort to find the same success they had in the 2015 campaign. We will see if these moves pay off in their first spring training game on Saturday, Feb. 25 against the Texas Rangers at 1:05 pm.