MILWAUKEE – Jason Hammel is a good dude who’s been getting different versions of the same question since spring training.
“Fire away,” Hammel said. “It’s not like it’s going to stop.”
It’s hard to picture Hammel’s trade value going much higher after Saturday’s 8-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Two months into the season, he’s 6-3 with a 2.78 ERA, a nice alternative for any team that doesn’t have the prospects or the stomach to enter the Jeff Samardzija auction.
“I know my own value,” Hammel said. “My value is in here for the Cubs. That’s the way I see it. I’m not going to play into the whole trade talk. It is what it is. The only way you can’t get traded in baseball is if you have a no-trade clause. And that’s it. It could happen to anybody.”
The 6-foot-6 inch Hammel stood at his locker inside the visiting clubhouse with his right shoulder wrapped in ice. He’s been engaging with the media, smirking once in awhile, but still saying all the right things.
Hammel has owned the first-place Brewers (33-23) in two starts this year, giving up zero runs while putting up 15 strikeouts in 14 innings.
This time, Hammel felt the bounce from two two-run homers hit by Anthony Rizzo, the day after the first baseman got a day off and expressed all the frustrations surrounding the stalled Wrigley Field renovations.
Could Hammel be gone by the time the proposed groundbreaking begins in July? The Cubs “jumped the market” with Scott Feldman last summer, trading him on July 2 to the Baltimore Orioles in the Jake Arrieta/Pedro Strop deal.
“I love it here,” Hammel said. “I just want to continue to pitch and compete like I have.”
Hammel has proven he’s healthy, living up to that one-year, $6 million deal signed after Masahiro Tanaka chose the New York Yankees, showing he can be a top-of-the-rotation guy.
“One hundred percent,” Hammel said. “I just come out and try to compete every day. I knew two years ago, before I got hurt. I made some adjustments and really figured out how to pitch and figure out who I was as a pitcher. Injuries can derail you from that. When healthy, it translates.”
The Cubs are 20-33 and have the worst record in baseball. Even though they’ve seen the summer sell-off before – and maintained a pretty good clubhouse vibe – it won’t be easy losing 40 percent of the rotation again.
“I’ll cross that bridge if I have to cross that bridge,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The reality is we all know that a club is made up of a lot of different players and there are guys on the club that are special components of that team. I hope that we’re always able to handle the adjustments and the changes that occur – if they should occur – when we need to.”