Former Cubs Pitcher Jason Hammel Signs 2-Year Deal With Royals, With Mutual Option

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Royals have announced their $16-million, two-year contract with right-hander Jason Hammel, a move designed to shore up the starting rotation after the death of Yordano Ventura in a car accident last month.

Hammel will make $5 million this season and $9 million next season, and the deal announced Wednesday includes a $2 million buyout of a 2019 mutual option. Hammel can make a $250,000 annual performance bonus if he throws 200 innings.

Right-hander Alec Mills was designated for assignment Wednesday to clear space for Hammel on the 40-man roster. Hammel had agreed to the contract late Sunday pending a physical.

He slots into a starting rotation that includes left-handers Danny Duffy and Jason Vargas and right-hander Ian Kennedy, with the fifth spot up for grabs in spring training.

Hammel was 15-10 with a 3.83 ERA for the World Series champion Chicago Cubs last season and has proven to be a workhorse with at least 30 appearances in each of the past three seasons.

Shortly after winning the championship in early November, the Cubs chose not to pick up Hammel’s option for 2017, making him a free agent. While he was a solid performer, manager Joe Maddon didn’t trust Hammel in key moments, and he didn’t pitch in the playoffs. The Cubs instead chose to consider other internal and external options.

There was some thought that by picking up Hammel’s option, he could be trade bait, but team management made clear that move was never in play.

The Cubs had kind words for Hammel on Wednesday after his deal became official.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.

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