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Heyman: Phillies willing to pay down Hellickson's salary to ensure trade

By Theo DeRosa, Sports Talk Philly staff

Once again, the NL Notes column produced by FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman reveals pertinent info about the Phillies and the trade market. Today, Heyman's news concerns starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson.

In exchange for a quality prospect, Heyman notes, the Phillies would be willing to pay some of Hellickson's salary in a trade, rather than unloading it all onto a trade partner. Hellickson, 30, accepted the Phillies' qualifying offer in the offseason and makes $17.2 million in 2017.

With little money tied up in this year's club and plenty of cap space, the Phillies have no reason to pay part of, if not all of, Hellickson's salary. Doing so could net the Phils a decent prospect instead of organizational filler.

In 2017, Hellickson has been the reliable mid-rotation starter he's nearly always been. He's the only member of the Opening Day Phillies rotation to avoid the DL so far, having logged 107.1 innings with an earned run average of 4.44. Earlier in the season, Hellickson was struggling to strike batters out, but he's pulled his strikeout rate up in recent starts, with just 59 strikeouts on the season. He has walked 28 and given up 21 home runs in 19 starts.

Hellickson is who he is, and that's an innings-eater who profiles as a No. 4 or No. 5 starter for a playoff team. With the recent loss of Michael PiƱeda to Tommy John surgery, the New York Yankees are in need of a starter or two, and Hellickson might fit well there. The same is true of Kansas City, which is making moves toward contending this year. The Royals (46-47) have seen a standout season from Jason Vargas, and Danny Duffy has been excellent when healthy. The back of their rotation is a little spottier, with Jason Hammel struggling and Nate Karns on the disabled list, so the Royals could be a landing spot for Hellickson as well.

No teams have been explicitly named as a Hellickson suitor by a national source, though, so it remains to be seen where the right-hander will wind up when July 31 rolls around.

Other Phillies notes from Heyman's article:

  • Reliever Pat Neshek remains a hot commodity on the trade market and the team's most popular piece.
  • With their financial clout and lack of long-term commitments, Heyman notes that the Phillies "can't be ruled out for" players like Giancarlo Stanton, Manny Machado or Bryce Harper. Heyman says that Stanton's contract and full no-trade clause make him the most unlikely target of those three.
  • Howie Kendrick, set to return soon, could be an "interesting bench piece" in a trade, according to Heyman.

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