The Rundown: Hammel to KC, Pirates Rearrange Outfield, Eddie Butler as Jake Arrieta?

You may have missed it, but there was a big handegg contest last night that consumed most of the nation. I enjoyed the game and the ads, though looking for hidden messages in Lady Gaga’s performance (that’s a real claim, but I’ll not deign to link the crackpot who made it) has left me somewhat addled.

Good thing there really wasn’t much going on when it comes to baseball. What there is, though, I’ve got for you here. Well, some of it. Probably only a small portion. Whatever, don’t get mad at me; you’re the one who clicked. On with the show.

Despite hopes that he’d return to the Cubs in a swing role, Jason Hammel has indeed found the multi-year contract he was seeking. Ken Rosenthal was first with the news, Jeff Passan got us the specifics.

At first blush, you might be a little surprised by the $8 million AAV, which is significantly less than expected for even a mediocre starter. As the best remaining FA pitcher on the market, I had Hammel pegged for at least $10 million per. Then again, offers — at least those of the reported variety — hadn’t exactly been rolling in. This looks to be a good fit for both sides, though we’d all gladly undo the circumstances that make it so for the Royals.

No word yet on exactly how the contract is structured, but reports are that it includes a mutual option for a third year. That’s just a matter of semantics, since it’s really a team option. Hammel will be 36 at the conclusion of the guarantee, so it’s unlikely he’ll be in much of a position to command a huge sum in free agency. I mean this isn’t Rich Hill we’re talking about. I’m guessing this is $7 million over the first two seasons with a $10 million option and $2 million buyout.

Not that anyone should have been worried about him coming back to bite the Cubs, but it was nice to see Hammel get a deal with a team outside the division. When it comes to the NL Central, news has been a little light. There was, however, a little buzz out of Pittsburgh.

The Pirates are playing a little three-card Monte with their outfield alignment, moving Starling Marte from left to center with Gregory Polanco in left and Andrew McCutchen in right.

“We believe this alignment will maximize our outfield production,” Bucs skipper Clint Hurdle said of the move. “Our men were very professional and respectful of the team and each other throughout the process, and are selfless in helping us strengthen our team defensively.”

I can’t imagine this comes as good news to the exceedingly inebriated woman who was seated to my right at PNC Park last season. We were immediately adjacent to the left fielder’s position and she tried in earnest for at least six innings to get Marte to look her way. Much to her dismay, he acquiesced not. Much to everyone else’s dismay, she shut the hell up not. Not sure that’s acceptable grammar, but oh well.

It’s been a weird offseason for the Buccos, who had been actively engaged with at least the Nats in efforts to trade Cutch. Now they’re moving the former MVP to right, which is kind of a demotion when you consider Pittsburgh’s large left field. But he’s no longer a young man and they’ve got plenty of burgeoning talent. Not enough to come close to the Cubs, mind you, but definitely some exciting players.

You want more exciting players? Look no further than Eddie Butler, the newest acquisition of the Epstoyer front office (outside of MiLB signings, that is). At least one blogger feels that the swap of James Farris and some international bonus pool slots for the former Rockies pitcher could eventually go down as one of the most lopsided in Theo Epstein’s Cubs career.

For the record, I disagree heartily. It’s entirely possible that Butler benefits from his new surroundings and the top-flight tutelage of Chris Bosio, but I think we’re talking about a mid-rotation guy at best. My fellow publisher of online musings does temper the expectations a bit toward the end, so that’s good.

And here are a few more notes to close us out:

  • We’ve got a pretty sweet new “Theo Is My President” shirt that you should buy because it’s awesome. Reminder that purchasing our gear not only serves to make us filthy rich, it also helps some great causes. Seriously, we donate a significant portion of all proceeds to charity (Make-A-Wish, Children’s Miracle Networks, and various other local causes).

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