Red Sox Trade Interest In Jeremy Hellickson Creates Questions
If the Boston Red Sox have genuine interest in Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson, it creates more questions than just trade target negotiations.
It’s the worst secret in baseball that the Red Sox need better pitching, both in the starting rotation and the bullpen. While some of their starters continue to be placed in the bullpen, to rediscover former glory, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is, apparently, on the hunt for someone to replace them. As per Scott Lauber of ESPN, “‘That fourth and fifth [starter] spot, we’ve been searching,’ Dombrowski said.”
Jon Morosi of Fox Sports tweeted the following that sheds light on Dombrowski’s way of thinking:
As Steve Adams of MLBTradeRumors.com suggests, “as a free agent at season’s end it seems likely that he’ll be wearing a new uniform by the time the non-waiver deadline passes.” Yet, does that mean the Red Sox should be the ones to obtain his services?
The knee-jerk reaction would be that it can’t get much worse than it is now, and it’s pretty hard to argue against that line of thinking. The 29-year-old, seven-year veteran righty has posted a 3.92 ERA in 105.2 innings so far this year, which would put him behind only Steven Wright (2.68 ERA) and RIck Porcello (3.82 ERA) as a Red Sox starter. The next closest would be the supposed ace David Price, who has posted a 4.64 ERA this season.
Hellickson’s opposing batting average of .250 is also fairly impressive, considering the Philadelphia Phillies play in the same division as the Washington Nationals, who have scored 399 RBIs for 10th place in the majors, and the Miami Marlins, who sit second only to the Red Sox in team batting average (.274).
However, there are a couple issues of note, as well. Hellickson has given up 16 home runs, which ties him with Price, even without pitching in a hitter-friendly field like Fenway Park. He may have a 42.4 ground-ball rate, as Adams reports, but it’s not unusual to see pitchers from the National League not able to transfer their successful numbers to the American League, and vice versa. Considering that Hellickson used to play for the Tampa Bay Rays from 2010-2014, where his last two seasons ended with ERAs of 5.17 and 4.52 respectively, it could be more of the same in a return by trade.
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Hellickson’s ERA is below four runs, according to
, because of his record at home in Philadelphia, posting a 3.77 ERA. In away games, which Fenway games would feel at first to him, Hellickson posted a 4.10 ERA. For a 2016 contract worth $7 million, Hellickson seems pretty expensive, not even factoring in the assets that would need to go the Phillies’ way in a trade for him. After all of that effort, Hellickson would still be a free agent at the end of the season, with no guarantee that he would stick around.
How much better does Hellickson make the Red Sox, if they were to trade for him? Who would be the names in return, with the Aaron Hill trade still fresh in everyone’s minds? Boston just let go of two minor league players, so who would be expendable? Yoan Moncada? Andrew Benintendi? Dombrowski might as well quit if that were the case, as they seem to be the foreseeable future of the team. There are a few other prospects of note, but will the Phillies accept them when Hellickson is doing pretty well for them lately?
The fact is that Hellickson, while being a decent fourth or fifth starter, doesn’t necessarily benefit the Red Sox in the immediate future, and his long-term future would also be in question. Meanwhile, the team would be losing more bargaining chips to trade for someone who would help them even more, if such a person were out there. However, with Henry Owens, Joe Kelly, Eduardo Rodriguez, and a host of young pitching talent looking more like lemons decaying on the bench, Boston may be caught admiring their cards at the poker table too long before realizing that they have a losing hand.
It’s a tough call, to say the least.