Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson’s November decision to accept the Phillies’ qualifying offer in lieu of testing free agency came as a surprise, but he believes it was the correct choice. “I feel like I made the right decision,” Hellickson told Ryan Lawrence of PhillyVoice.com earlier this month. “And seeing how it all went down, I definitely feel like I made the right decision.” Only three free agent starters – Rich Hill ($48MM), Ivan Nova ($26MM) and Edinson Volquez ($22MM) – ended up scoring deals worth more than Hellickson’s $17.2MM qualifying offer during the winter, and each did so via two- or three-year deals. Hellickson was actually eager to join them in a weak market before receiving advice from his agent, Scott Boras “The first few days I was set on declining it,” Hellickson said of the QO. “There really wasn’t too much stress involved. But then after hearing from Scott after the (GM Meetings), I didn’t know what I was going to do.” Ultimately, the market developed as Boras expected it to, per Hellickson, who added that he’s content in Philly and “glad” the Marlins’ attempt to acquire him last summer failed.
The latest on a few other pitchers:
- While the possibility of the Dodgers stashing Julio Urias in extended spring training to begin the year has come up, they’re now “leaning toward” having the left-hander open the season in their rotation, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. In that scenario, the 20-year-old wunderkind would make shorter starts to tamp down his workload, per Gurnick. Including postseason play, Urias tossed a career-high 127 2/3 innings between the majors and minors last year.
- Marlins righty Dan Straily enjoyed perhaps the best season of his career last year, when the then-Red totaled 191 1/3 frames of 3.76 ERA ball with 7.62 K/9 and 3.43 BB/9, and he attributes much of his 2016 success to analytics, writes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. One of Straily’s friends, a banking analytics specialist who “loves baseball,” helped the 28-year-old determine “which are the best pitches to throw against certain hitters.” Straily also studied one pitcher per division with similar velocity, spin rate and spin angles. “Now going into the game, there’s not a lot of guesswork,” Straily told Jackson. “I have a plan. I had a big change in terms of pitch selection more than anything else. I threw way more changeups last year. Just mixing speeds a lot more; not being predictable.”
- After working mostly as a reliever from 2015-16, including all of last season, Twins righty Trevor May is ready to leave the bullpen behind and win a starting job this spring. “I think I have a little bit of a chip, being unclear about knowing what I was going to be doing the last two years,” May, 27, told Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. “It wasn’t ideal for me or the vision I had for myself of my career. I’m going at it at 100 percent. There’s no, ’Oh, I could fall back to the bullpen.'” May, who has logged a 5.61 ERA (3.85 FIP), 8.17 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 126 2/3 career innings as a starter, is competing against several other candidates for a rotation spot, as MLBTR’s Steve Adams detailed Friday.