Soon-to-be free agent right-hander Jeremy Hellickson said Thursday that he’d like his next deal to be a multiyear pact, but he also told Todd Zolecki of MLB.com that he’s not ruling out accepting a qualifying offer from the Phillies. In tendering Hellickson a QO after the season, the Phillies would either bring him back next year for $16.7MM or lose him to another team and land a first-round pick as compensation.
“I mean, I definitely could see it,” Hellickson said of taking a qualifying offer.
If he were to accept a QO, Hellickson would join a growing list of players who have gone that route since last offseason, when Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, Astros outfielder Colby Rasmus and Dodgers left-hander Brett Anderson all took one-year, $15.8MM deals to remain where they were. Hellickson certainly has a case for multiyear contract, though, considering both his strong 2016 and the paucity of quality starters scheduled to hit the open market over the winter. Fellow impending free agents Rich Hill and Bartolo Colon are superior pitchers to Hellickson, but they’re both significantly older than the 29-year-old (30 in April). Hellickson, therefore, might offer the best combination of relative youth and track record among those who are primed to hit the market.
Hellickson, who made $7MM this year, boosted his future earning power with his first above-average season since 2012, posting a 3.71 ERA, 7.33 K/9, 2.14 BB/9 and 14.3 percent infield fly rate across a career-high 189 innings. The former top prospect was even stingier at preventing runs as a Ray during his first three seasons, but the 2011 American League Rookie of the Year struggled with both Tampa Bay and Arizona from 2013-15. The rebuilding Phillies acquired Hellickson from the Diamondbacks in a salary dump last November, and the move paid dividends for Philadelphia this year. It could continue serving them well in the future if he re-signs or heads elsewhere and nets the team a draft choice.
“I would love to be back next year,” Hellickson said of Philadelphia.
However, the Phillies won’t look to spend significant money during the offseason, as FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman and FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal have reported this week. That makes it likely Hellickson’s stint with the club will go down as a one-off, per Zolecki.