The Philadelphia Phillies have made their first official trade of the offseason. They have acquired right-handed starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for minor league right-handed starting pitcher Sam McWilliams, as reported by Robert Murray of Baseball Essential.
Hellickson is only one year removed from arriving in Arizona last offseason in a winter deal with the Tampa Bay Rays. Originally named the 2011 AL Rookie of the Year with the Rays in which he went 13-10 with a 2.95 ERA across 189.0 innings of work, Hellickson has struggled to repeat the success he sustained in 2011 and has suffered a dramatic drop-off in production since his rookie year. The Rays eventually lost hope with him and flipped him to Arizona last year.
The D-Backs were in need of pitching and were hoping that a change of scenery would do him good. Unfortunately it was more of the same with Hellickson, as he pitched to a 4.32 ERA across only 146.0 innings of work. The right-hander was set to make $6.6 million in his final season before hitting the open market. For a team like Arizona that is in desperate need of quality pitching, paying Hellickson that kind of money is a luxury they simply can not afford. Trading Hellickson gives the D-Backs some more payroll flexibility to take on additional salary for a high-profile acquisition this offseason. The Phillies are receiving some much-needed pitching depth in the form of Hellickson. They are rolling the dice that another change of scenery is what is needed to fix the right-hander.
McWilliams was ranked number 27 in the Phillies’ top 30 prospects list by MLB.com for 2015. Originally taken in the 2014 draft, the big right-hander has spent his first two pro seasons in the Rookie level of the Phillies’ system. After struggling in his first pro season, he put up a much better season in 2015, posting a 3.27 ERA across 33.0 innings of work. He is a strong, physical pitcher who has a solid fastball in his arsenal but still needs to work on his breaking stuff. His ceiling is still a bit of an unknown, but is clearly worth the D-Backs taking a gamble on to see if he has the makings of a front-of-the-rotation pitcher.