Baseball’s free agency period is officially upon us, and a couple of South Kitsap graduates — Willie Bloomquist and Jason Hammel — are among the players available.
Bloomquist has made no secret that he would prefer to remain with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but he turns 36 later this month and he spent a lot of time on the disabled list this past season. Injuries aside, he’s had his two best offensive seasons in 2012 and 2013, and he can play anywhere. He signed a two-year, $3.8 million deal with the D’backs the last time around. Will he get an offer, or as this story suggests: Willie stay or Willie go? The Diamondbacks have plenty of depth at shortstop, with veteran Cliff Pennington signed for next year and prospects Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings under club control. But Bloomquist is the ideal utility guy and he hits lefties (he has a career OPS — on base-plus percentage and slugging average — of .708). And he’s beloved in the desert, where he was recently inducted into the Arizona State Hall of Fame.
Hammel, a right-handed pitcher, made $6.75 million and was the Orioles’ Opening Day starter in 2013. He was 7-2 at one point, but that was mostly because of some excellent offensive support. He never seemed right and eventually wound up on the disabled list with a strained foreman. He came back late in the season, pitching out of the bullpen, and had some success. Hammel was really good during the first half of 2012 before requiring knee surgery. Former Baltimore ace Jim Palmer thinks Hammel’s worth a one-year, $8 million deal. Some have suggested that he might be the kind of veteran pitcher that would fit in as the No. 4 starter with the Mariners. We’ll see.