Phillies: Jeremy Hellickson Says Taking Qualifying Offer Was Right Move

Jeremy Hellickson had a productive season for the Philadelphia Phillies last year. He accepted a one-year qualifying offer to return in 2017.

Over the offseason, 29-year-old starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson looked as though he might be poised to land a multi-year deal. Hellickson had a solid season for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2016. Over 32 starts, he went 12-10 with a 3.71 ERA (111 ERA+) and a 1.15 WHIP.

The past season was quite arguably one of Hellickson’s best. The right-hander won the AL Rookie of the Year award for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011 and had a solid follow-up campaign in 2012, but he went only 22-27 with a 4.86 ERA (81 ERA+) and 1.36 WHIP with the Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks from 2013-15.

In 2016, Hellickson’s 3.98 FIP was actually the lowest full-season mark of his career. During his early success with the Rays, Hellickson posted low ERAs, but had FIPs in the mid-4.00 range. Hellickson’s 3.2 fWAR was also the best mark of his career.

Rather than parlaying his solid 2016 campaign into a multi-year deal, however, Hellickson accepted a one-year qualifying offer worth $17.2 million to remain with the Phillies.

According to Ryan Lawrence of PhillyVoice, Hellickson, whose agent is Scott Boras, admits he initially planned to decline the qualifying offer. However, after seeing how everything played out, Hellickson now feels confident that accepting the qualifying offer was the right call.

Lawrence points out that during the winter, teams were not spending on starting pitching the way they did the previous offseason. Only a handful of starters signed deals for more than one year.

Two of those pitchers, Charlie Morton and Jason Hammel, signed two-year deals for less than the $17.2 million that Hellickson received in the one-year qualifying offer.

After being at the top of the NL East from 2007-11, the Phillies were a .500 team in 2012 and have now had four losing seasons in a row. However, the team showed signs of improvement last year, winning eight more games than they did in 2015. The Phillies also showed that they are trying to get better over the offseason.

According to Lawrence, Hellickson admits his decision to accept the qualifying offer became a tad less difficult after the acquisitions of infielder/outfielder Howie Kendrick and reliever Pat Neshek.

Right now, Hellickson appears to be the de facto ace in a rotation that also features Clay Buchholz and youngsters Aaron Nola and Vince Velasquez. Manager Pete Mackanin has already signaled that Hellickson is the early favorite to be the Phillies’ opening day starter in 2017.

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