WASHINGTON — The Cubs could look a lot more like the Kansas City Royals than they already do if trade talks progress quickly on pitcher Jason Hammel.
If Hammel winds up as the Cubs’ lone mandatory All-Star selection Sunday, the Cubs could face the possibility of being the only team without an All-Star on July 15 in Minneapolis.
Hammel, who earned his team-leading eighth victory by beating the Washington Nationals 7-2 on Friday, could become the first player since Carlos Beltran in 2004 to win an All-Star spot with one team and get traded to another before the game.
That year, Beltran was traded by the Kansas City Royals out of the American League to the Houston Astros on June 24 while positioned among the top three AL outfielders in fan voting. He was elected to the starting lineup even though he was no longer in the league.
First baseman Ken Harvey wound up representing the Royals in the game, and Beltran was an injury replacement for the Cincinnati Reds’ Ken Griffey Jr. on the National League squad.
One of the more consistent pitchers in the NL this year, Hammel (8-5, 2.98 ERA) threw another strong six innings to beat the Nationals for the second time in eight days.
At least one mock All-Star selection by a national publication had Hammel on its NL roster.
Meanwhile, at least a half-dozen teams eyeing starting pitching have Hammel in their sights for a trade this month.
The Seattle Mariners, who could be a front-runner for the big right-hander, had former big-league pitcher Pete Vuckovich, a special assistant to the Mariners general manager, watching Hammel on Friday. Also on hand were scouts from the San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays.
The New York Yankees, who learned this week that CC Sabathia’s knee injury could keep him sidelined all season, also are expected to ramp up efforts to land a starting pitcher.
Most of the teams in on Hammel want to strike a deal well before the July 31 deadline to get as many starts out of the rent-a-pitcher as possible. It was a year ago this week the Cubs traded Scott Feldman (with catcher Steve Clevenger) to the Baltimore Orioles for Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop.
Hammel’s next start is scheduled for Wednesday in Cincinnati. That would be his last start before the All-Star game, if not as a Cub — if he gets that far.
If he makes the All-Star team then gets traded before July 15 and the Cubs don’t have another selection, it could leave officials scrambling to add a Cub.
Until then, add Justin Ruggiano to the list of Cubs gaining trade value. The outfielder acquired from the Miami Marlins in December had three hits Friday, including a third-inning homer.
Chris Coghlan, Nate Schierholtz and Darwin Barney also added multihit performances to back Hammel.