Phillies: What Are the Effects of Hellickson Accepting Qualifying Offer?

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May 18, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson (58) pitches during the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
May 18, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson (58) pitches during the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jeremy Hellickson accepted the qualifying offer extended to him by the Phillies. What does that mean for them heading into 2017 and beyond?

To the surprise of many in Philadelphia Monday, Jeremy Hellickson accepted his $17.2 million qualifying offer from the Phillies. He told Meghan Montemurro of the Delaware News Journal that “interested teams told him he was at the top of their free agent list, but they didn’t want to give up a first-round pick to sign him.” Now that Hellickson will remain in Philly for another year, what does this mean for the Phils?

The obvious effect of Hellickson staying in pinstripes is that the team now has their veteran presence in the rotation. This is convenient for them, as they now have a familiar arm in the rotation as opposed to bringing in someone new. Considering the rotation could wind up comprising of numerous pitchers in just their second full major-league season, Hellickson’s experience and stability may be needed.

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Hellickson was by no means a bad pitcher in 2016 either. He led the team with 3.2 fWAR and was second in rWAR to Jerad Eickhoff with 3.1. Hellickson posted the lowest FIP and WHIP since his 2011 Rookie of the Year season. He was worth $25.6 million in 2016 according to Fangraphs, so he will still be worth the money if he continues this success.

Before Hellickson accepting the offer, the Phillies had a payroll of $34.7 million heading into next season according to Spotrac.

With the $17.2 million soon to be on the books, that payroll will now be $51.9 million. That still leaves plenty of room for the team to pursue other free agents as well.

However, Hellickson’s acceptance may leave the team more hesitant to sign a free agent with a qualifying offer attached. If Hellickson rejected the qualifying offer and signed somewhere else, they would have three draft picks in the top 50 of the draft. Now, they will only have their normal picks.

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The club now don’t have the compensation pick from Hellickson to spare if they sign a free agent with a qualifying offer attached. If the team signed someone like Yoenis Cespedes or Ian Desmond, who denied qualifying offers from their teams, the Phils would lose their second-round draft pick.

Without this compensatory pick from Hellickson, the front office may have to change their plans if they were thinking about pursuing a big-name free agent. This would leave them choosing between a potential top-ten team prospect or a major-league contributor.

At this stage of the rebuild, I would rather see them take a chance on a prospect. On the other hand, I can see why they would prefer a safer bet on a big-name free agent.

Next: Which Phillies Outperformed Their 2016 Projections?

Hellickson provides some stability in the rotation this year for a relatively cheap price compared to his production last season. However, it leaves the team in a difficult position while pursuing top-level free agents.

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