Jeremy Hellickson Forcing Interesting Dilemma
Jeremy Hellickson continued his strong start to the 2017 season Friday night against the Braves. In seven innings, he allowed just two runs on three hits with five strikeouts. He earned his third win of the season, improving his record to 3-0.
With four starts now under his belt, Hellickson has a 1.88 ERA and 3.33 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 2017. His 0.71 WHIP leads all qualified National League pitchers.
Hellickson’s early success in 2017 brings back the obvious trade speculation. The Phillies tried to trade Hellickson last year – and got fairly close – but were unable to do so. Now that he is back in Philadelphia after accepting the team’s qualifying offer, the potential for trading him is back once again.
If the team is unable to trade Hellickson – or decides not to if they somehow are in the playoff hunt – they will be posed with another question after the season ends. Hellickson is a free agent yet again, but the team cannot offer him another qualifying offer. Barring the market completely falling off, Hellickson is unlikely to accept a one-year offer in free agency.
This would mean the Phillies would have to offer Hellickson a longer deal if they want to retain him. While this seems like an unlikely option considering the young pitching talent already on the team, it may not be the worst thing on the world. Jon Stolnis of The Good Phight laid out why giving Hellickson a two or three-year extension may not be a bad idea:
"“When you consider his strengths (pitch economy and experience) with what the rest of the staff brings to the table (struggles with pitch economy and youth), as well as the perils of offering big-time, long-term deals to ace pitchers like Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta, perhaps Hellickson’s experience and reliability are a perfect fit for this team as they transition from rebuilding to contending.”"
For now, the hope is that Hellickson can pitch his way right into a midseason deal that nets the Phils a solid prospect or two. However, if that doesn’t pan out, offering an extension to Hellickson may be an option.