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Phillies Rumors: Club may take on money to move Jeremy Hellickson

By Tim Kelly, Sports Talk Philly editor

While Jeremy Hellickson wouldn't be the ace of a staff for a contending team, the Philadelphia Phillies right-hander has been pretty impressive in the first month of a contract year. The 30-year-old has pitched exactly 30 innings this month, going 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA. 

Hellickson returned to the Phillies after accepting the club's $17.2 million qualifying offer this past offseason. That means that he again is a potential free-agent this offseason, meaning trading him this summer will be discussed. According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the Phillies may take on money in a trade of Hellickson this summer if it allows them to increase the return they get for him: 

"The Phillies would be willing to pay some of Hellickson’s $17.2-million salary, depending on the prospect(s) they could get."

If we assume that around the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline Hellickson still has around $7 million (that's not an exact figure) left on his contract for 2017, it would make sense that the Phillies would need to take on money to increase the field for Hellickson. A team like the Miami Marlins, who nearly traded for Hellickson last summer, may not be able to take on that much money in a trade. But if they know the Phillies are willing to assist them financially, they become a more serious suitor, which means either they will offer enough to complete a trade or push another suitor to offer more to assure they land Hellickson. 

A trade of Hellickson this summer is much more likely than it was last summer. The Phillies certainly entertained offers for Hellickson last summer, but knew that if they didn't get a return for him that they liked, they could keep him for the rest of the year and give him a qualifying offer following the season. 

The Phillies would have preferred that Hellickson left in free-agency, because they would have acquired a compensatory pick in this summer's MLB Draft. But the team, especially manager Pete Mackanin and the day-to-day staff, certainly weren't upset to retain him. 

This offseason, the Phillies can't extend a qualifying offer to Hellickson, because the new CBA doesn't allow players to be offered qualifying offers more than once. There's also new rules surrounding how large a contract has to be for the team to get compensation and the compensation has been lowered, but those rules won't apply to Hellickson. The simple thing to know is that if he walks in free-agency this offseason, the Phillies won't be compensated for it. 

So that means one of two things will need to happen before July 31, either the Phillies will need to trade Hellickson to avoid losing him for nothing or sign him to a multi-year extension. In theory, the team should at least consider signing him to an extension, but it's unclear if agent Scott Boras will be interested in allowing Hellickson to forfeit a chance to be on the open market this offseason. 

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