Monday December 8th, 2014

Free agent starting pitcher Jason Hammel is close to reaching a deal with the Chicago Cubs, reports

The terms of the potential deal are unknown but Hammel was thought to be seeking a three-year deal according to the report.

Hammel began the 2014 season with the Cubs and went 8-5 with a 2.98 ERA in 17 starts before he was sent to the Oakland A's in July as part of the Jeff Samardzija trade. He recorded a 4.26 ERA in 12 starts and one relief appearance for the A's, putting his combined ERA for the season at 3.47 with 158 strikeouts and 44 walks.

The A's acquired the two starting pitchers from Chicago in order to make a push for the immediate future, indicating they weren't likely to re-sign either at the conclusion of their contracts. While Samardzija, who is due to become a free agent after the 2015 season, has been mentioned in trade rumors, it's been reported Oakland isn't currently shopping the 29-year-old.

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Hammel joined the Cubs on a one-year, $6 million contract last winter after spending the previous two years with the Baltimore Orioles. Before that, Hammel also played for the Colorado Rockies and Tampa Bay Rays.

Over his nine-year career, Hammel has gone 59-70 with a 4.60 ERA.

Cubs president Theo Epstein has said the team will be aggressive this offseason. The team reportedly targeted catcher Russell Martin, who went on to sign with the Toronto Blue Jays, and has been linked to free agent starting pitcher Jon Lester, who also became a member of the A's in 2014 after a midseason trade.

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Chicago went 73-89 in 2014 and finished in last place in the National League Central, marking the fifth straight season the team has had a losing record and has finished in last or second-to-last place in the division.

The Cubs fired manager Rick Renteria in late October after just one year in order to hire Joe Maddon after the latter opted out of his contract with the Rays. Last week it was announced that Dave Martinez, who served under Maddon as the bench coach in Tampa Bay for the past seven seasons, was joining the Cubs in the same capacity.

MLB's Winter Meetings begin Monday in San Diego.

Ben Estes

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