Earlier this winter, the Chicago Cubs declined their $12 million option on Jason Hammel. The move surprised many for a few reasons, not the least of which was the Cubs created the need for another starting pitcher.
While most thought the Cubs would turn to the trade market to find their new starter — or, perhaps, internally to Mike Montgomery — it seems like Jed Hoyer and crew might have their attention focused on a free-agent starter. That starter? One Tyson Ross, formerly of the San Diego Padres. Here’s what Nick Cafardo reported in Sunday’s Boston Globe:
Teams are evaluating how much of a health risk Ross is. Ross earned $9.6 million last season — when he pitched just one game and had surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome — and was headed to arbitration before he was non-tendered by San Diego Dec. 2. The Cubs seem the most interested, but smaller-market teams such as Pittsburgh, Miami and Arizona may be in the hunt, as well as Texas and Houston.
As Cafardo noted, some pitchers have had trouble returning from thoracic outlet syndrome, including Chris Carpenter and Josh Beckett. Still, the Cubs’ pursuit of Ross passes the smell test. When right, he’s been a highly effective starter. Consider that over the course of the 2014-15 seasons, he started 64 games and compiled marks of a 3.03 ERA (117 ERA+) and 2.61 strikeout-to-walk ratio — all the while leaning heavily on his fastball-slider combination.
If the Cubs have confidence in Montgomery’s ability to transition back to the rotation, then signing Ross would make even more sense as they could take it slow with Ross. Obviously that could lead to having one too many talented starters, but that’s a desirable problem.
The Cubs would seem to have plenty of competition for Ross. But, seeing as how they’re the World Series champions and all, it wouldn’t be a stunner if he winds up pitching his home games at Wrigley Field.