Phillies Acquire Jeremy Hellickson from the Diamondbacks
MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that the Phillies are finalizing a trade with the Diamondbacks for starter Jeremy Hellickson. MLB.com‘s Steve Gilbert reports the Phillies are sending pitcher Sam McWilliams to Arizona. CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury was the first to break news of the trade.
Hellickson, 28, is entering his third and final year of arbitration eligibility after earning $4.275 million in 2015. The right-hander struggled this past season, finishing with a 4.62 ERA and a 121/43 K/BB ratio in 146 innings. While he will get a raise in arbitration, it won’t be much — likely in the $5 million range.
Hellickson has had three awful seasons in a row, under-performing his peripherals by about a half-run of ERA. He’s compiled a strikeout rate between 18 and 19 percent while walking around seven percent. His propensity to allow fly balls has made him a bit homer-prone, serving up 54 of them in 383 2/3 innings since the start of the 2013 season.
GM Matt Klentak is buying low on Hellickson. He will turn 29 in April and if he’s able to put things together in the first half, he could make himself attractive to contending teams and the team could flip him. Moreover, if the Phillies’ front office sees long term potential, he could be an extension candidate as well.
There is one red flag: Hellickson had surgery on his elbow in January 2014. Fortunately, it was only to remove “loose bodies” but it is still something to keep in mind. He also suffered a hamstring injury that knocked him out for about a month in the second half of last season.
McWilliams, 20, was selected by the Phillies in the eighth round of the 2014 draft. As Matt Winkelman of Phillies Minor Thoughts notes, McWilliams can hit the mid-90’s with his fastball and has “huge upside”. In the Gulf Coast League last season, he pitched 33 innings to the tune of a 3.27 ERA and a 21/5 K/BB ratio. Winkelman adds that McWilliams really only has a fastball at the moment, so it’s not much of a loss considering the amount of minor league depth the Phillies have now.
Signing a free agent would have been easier, but Hellickson gives the Phillies some longer-term value potential, though the probability of that potential being realized is rather low.