CHICAGO -- Jason Hammel and his family said thank you to Cubs fans who supported him during the three years he pitched for the team, taking out a full-page ad in the Chicago Tribune on Thursday.
"Thank you from the bottoms of our hearts for all the love and support you have given us over the past three years," Hammel said in the ad. "I can't adequately describe what it was like to step on the mound at Wrigley every fifth day and pitch in the greatest park, in the greatest city, in front of the greatest fans on the planet!"
"Our time in Chicago was so much more than that," Hammel said. "It wasn't just the baseball connection to the city that we've cherished; Chicago became our home and you became our neighbors.
"While the Cubs' chapter of our lives is now closed, the memories and friendships we have made will last forever."
Hammel won a career-high 15 games and posted a 3.83 ERA in 30 starts for the Cubs this season. On Saturday, the team announced it would not pick up Hammels' option for 2017, allowing him to become a free agent.
Hammel thanked the Cubs' owners, the Ricketts family, as well as president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer for "treating us like family." Epstein and Hoyer met with Hammel at his home last Saturday to discuss the decision regarding his contract.
"We understand the business side of the game can sometimes force tough decisions, and we thank you for handling it with professionalism and integrity," Hammel said.
"Finally, thank you to the coaches and staff, and to my teammates, who became my brothers," Hammel said. "We were so fortunate to have been a part of an organization that is run with as much class as the Chicago Cubs ... the 2016 World Series Champions!"
The ad featured a photo of Hammel with his son during the parade celebrating the Cubs' championship, as well as Hammel hugging the World Series trophy, a "W" flag and a portrait of him and his family.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.