|For second straight year Hellickson is on the market|
A year ago at this time, the Philadelphia Phillies were approaching the MLB trade deadline with starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson available on the market. For whatever reason, general manager Matt Klentak was unable to find a match that he felt was acceptable.
So Hellickson stayed with the Phillies into the off-season, where the club made him a contract offer. This was intended to gain them draft pick compensation once the right-hander signed as a free agent with another team.
That contract offer was for $17.2 million, which Hellickson and his agent found to be the best offer on the market. In somewhat of a surprise move, he signed the one-year deal to return with the Phillies in the 2017 season.
So here we are once again, with the MLB trade deadline approaching, and with the Phillies having Hellickson on the market.
His numbers are down this time around, and he is a year older. The Phillies GM will not get as much of a return as they would have last year. That said, he is more likely to actually be dealt this time around.
Hellickson is 6-5 with a 4.44 ERA and 1.230 WHIP after 19 starts. The now 30-year old has allowed 104 hits over 107.1 innings with a 59/28 K:BB ratio.
He would be a reliable mid-rotation or back-end option for any contending team’s pitching staff. Hellickson has pitched into the 6th inning in 11 of his 19 starts, including seven of his last nine outings. He has gone at least five innings in a dozen straight.
CONTENDERS COULD USE HELLICKSON
A number of teams still in legitimate playoff contention could use what Hellickson can bring to their starting rotation.
One interesting option could be Hellickson’s former team, the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays are surprise AL East and Wildcard contenders. They had actually been rumored as possible sellers, with starters Chris Archer and Alex Cobb as trade chips.
Their sudden emergence as legitimate contenders may not change those plans. The Rays could, in fact, both sell and buy as the deadline approaches. If they find a good deal for either Archer or Cobb, Tampa GM Erik Neander could turn to the Phils for Hellickson, trying to have the best of both worlds.
The defending American League champion Cleveland Indians have fought their way back to the top of the AL Central Division. The Tribe is due to get Danny Salazar back from a six-week stay on the DL this weekend.
Hellickson could replace Josh Tomlin or Trevor Bauer, providing a more reliable option as the Indians try to hold off the surprising Minnesota Twins and rejuvenated Kansas City Royals in the second half.
Are those Twins and Royals going to be buyers at the deadline, trying to stay with the Tribe? If so, both teams would upgrade their rotations by adding Hellickson.
The Seattle Mariners are at .500 and just 1.5 games out of an AL Wildcard spot. With Hisashi Iwakuma suffering a setback in his rehab program, Hellickson would be a perfect fit.
The New York Yankees just made a big deal for pitching, but it was to address their bullpen. With Michael Pineda injured, Masahiro Tanaka inconsistent, and C.C. Sabathia at 36 years of age, adding Hellickson would upgrade the Yanks rotation.
Out in the AL West, if either the Texas Rangers or Los Angeles Angels decide that they are buyers, Hellickson would be a positive addition for either pitching staff.
The NL East-leading Washington Nationals are currently going with Edwin Jackson in their rotation as a replacement for Joe Ross. Hellickson would be a far more reliable option for the Nats as a rental fifth starter.
Winners in 10 of their last 12 games, the Pittsburgh Pirates are clearly back in both the NL Central and Wildcard races. The Bucs could slot Hellickson’s veteran arm into a slot currently filled by youngsters Chad Kuhl or Trevor Williams if they want to make a run at October baseball.
The Saint Louis Cardinals are just three out in the loss column in that NL Central race. The Baltimore Orioles are just 3.5 out in the AL Wildcard battle. If either teams decides that they can contend, Hellickson would be a welcome addition to their mix.
At the end of June, Hellickson was asked what he thought of possibly being dealt. His response as reported by CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury was in line with previous statements that he wants to be in Philly. But Hellickson also acknowledged that it would be nice to be with a contender.
“Yeah, absolutely,” he said. “But at the same time, I think we’re not that far off with the guys we have coming up. I think if we just stayed healthy this year it would be a lot better. Yeah, I would like to be here for when things turn around, but at the same time it’s always fun to play in October.”
There are plenty of possible landing spots for Hellickson among the various MLB contending teams. The Phillies are not going to receive much in return. Perhaps a low-level prospect with some upside, but also with a ton of risk.
This trade deadline will be important to Klentak and the Phillies. It’s time for this team to begin turning the page from its recent losing core of position players. They also have a couple of nice arms available, including frequently discussed reliever Pat Neshek.
Hellickson is almost certainly going to be one of the pieces moved this year, making way for a group of young pitchers ready to continue their growth at the big league level with the Phillies.