Jeremy Hellickson has reportedly decided not to test free agency this winter, as the 29-year-old right-hander accepted the Philadelphia Phillies‘ one-year, $ 17.2-million qualifying offer hours before Monday’s deadline, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network.
Hellickson, one of 10 players to receive a qualifying offer, rebounded with aplomb in 2016 following two rough seasons in a row, as the former AL Rookie of the Year crafted a 3.71 ERA (111 ERA+) with a 1.15 WHIP while matching his career high with 189 innings pitched. Only 20 starters compiled more WAR in 2016 than Hellickson (3.2), who also managed his best strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.42) since 2011, his first full season in the majors.
As such, despite his spotty track record and the draft-pick compensation attached to him, Hellickson was expected to test the market, with his agent, Scott Boras, telling reporters at last week’s GM meetings that the pitching-thin free-agent class was “very advantageous” to him.
“He has a lot of components that tell you why he’s successful – his command, changeup, breaking ball – and that’s creating a lot of interest for a lot of teams,” Boras said, according to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. “And in a free-agent marketplace short on starting pitching – it’s very advantageous for him.”
Boras continued: “Jeremy has worked his way back to really being a top-level pitcher for the last year and a half and the qualifying offer is evidence of that.”
It appears, however, Hellickson wasn’t comfortable with the degree to which the qualifying offer would’ve depressed his salary on the open market. So, for a second straight season, the soft-throwing veteran will anchor a rotation that isn’t poised to feature another starter above the age of 27 in 2017. Had Hellickson rejected the qualifying offer and signed elsewhere, the Phillies would’ve received a compensatory pick in the 2017 MLB draft.
“We do have a nice volume of young pitching,” Phillies general manager Matt Klentak told Matt Gelb of Philly.com last week. “Some of them are experienced in the big leagues, and some of them are going to pitch at Triple-A this coming year. But we have young starters in volume to get us through the year.”