One way or another, Jeremy Hellickson is going to get a lot of money this winter. His first option is to take the $17.2-million that the Phillies offered him on Monday. His second option is to decline that money and look for what could be a longer and more lucrative deal on the free agent market. If he takes what's behind door number-two, the Phillies have guaranteed themselves a compensation pick in the draft should Hellickson sign elsewhere.
Hellickson threw 189 innings for the Phillies, the second time that he has thrown that many innings in a season. He also set a new career-high for strikeouts with 154. Those numbers, plus a strong 3.71 ERA in 32 starts for the Phillies would seem to guarantee Hellickson a better than average shot at getting a longer term deal somewhere other than in Philadelphia, but the team that would sign Hellickson would have to give up their first round pick - provided that pick is in the bottom half of the first round - to sign Hellickson as a free agent. It's worth noting that Hellickson's agent is Scott Boras, who has had a sometimes rocky relationship with the Phillies.
After pitching for different teams in each of the last three seasons, Hellickson said at the end of the season that he was hoping to find some stability in his career, hinting possibly at wanting a long-term deal. The free agent pitching market isn't exactly overflowing this offseason, which could be another lure for Hellickson and Boras to search for something more lucrative.
The Phillies would welcome Hellickson back, even though he would be receiving a $10-million jump in salary from 2016, because they need a veteran arm for their young pitching rotation. The finances of the deal would be easy for the Phillies to absorb, since they have very little money committed to players for 2017. If Hellickson were to decline the offer - he has until next Monday to accept or decline - the Phillies could also put the added first round draft pick to use in next June's draft.
The Phillies acquired Hellickson from Arizona last offseason for pitcher Sam McWilliams, who pitched at Class-A Kane County for the D'backs in 2016, going 3-6 with a 3.98 ERA in 15 starts.