Jeremy Hellickson didn't know a week ago if he was going to be returning to the Philadelphia Phillies or not, but after accepting the team's $17.2 qualifying offer Monday, Hellickson is excited to be back in the fold.
Speaking to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki Monday, Hellickson noted that he "loves" playing for the Phillies and that he thinks with the additions of Howie Kendrick and Pat Neshek, the Phillies should be better than the team that won 71 games in 2016:
"I've always said Howie [Kendrick] is one of the best hitters in the game. That was a huge pickup," Hellickson said. "Neshek has been doing it for a long time. He's really going to help the bullpen. That was another thing that made this decision easier, trading for those two guys. I see us competing next year."
"Competing" is a rather vague term, which probably isn't a bad thing. The Phillies should open the 2017 season trying to compete for a playoff spot--virtually every team should. But "competing" can mean striving to become a team that's ready to contend in 2018, even if by September the Phillies aren't playing for a playoff spot.
It should also be noted that the offseason has just begun, so the Phillies could continue to build upon retaining Hellickson and adding Kendrick and Neshek. The Phillies could (and should) add another veteran starter. They probably will continue to reshape the bullpen and add more veteran hitters as well.
Barring an extension on top of his qualifying offer, Hellickson will be monetarily motivated to follow up a career-year in 2016, as he will be attempting to set himself up for a long-term contract next offseason, whether it is with the Phillies or another team.