The Tigers are interested in acquiring Jeremy Hellickson from the Philadelphia Phillies, according to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports. Hellickson is in the final year of his contract and has posted a 3.70 ERA in 22 starts this year.
Acquiring Hellickson would make sense for the Tigers given the injuries to their starting rotation. Daniel Norris and Jordan Zimmermann have each missed the last month with lingering injuries, and now Mike Pelfrey is dealing with back issues. Hellickson could play as a solid number four starter behind Justin Verlander, Michael Fulmer and a healthy Zimmermann. His 2016 season has been pretty good- a 4.11 FIP and a 1.9 fWAR are nothing to sneeze at from a very durable starter.
In fact, there may be reason to hope that Hellickson could be even better down the stretch. He boasts a rock-solid 14.9 K-BB% and a 1.15 WHIP this year. These are counter-balanced by an elevated home run rate of 1.30 dingers per nine innings. Philadelphia is notorious for playing as a home-run friendly ballpark, and that is supported by Hellickson’s 14.3 percent ratio of home runs to fly balls.
There are some red flags involved in acquiring Hellickson, however. The Phillies don’t necessarily have to deal him:
Source: Phillies have been aiming high in Jeremy Hellickson talks, asking teams for a top-5 player in system. Could drop price before 4.— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) August 1, 2016
The Phillies can afford to demand such a high price for him because of his contract status. Since Hellickson will be a free agent at the end of the year, Philadelphia is in position to land a compensation round pick if they make him a qualifying offer at the end of the year. Since they are able to pick up a first round player without making a deal, the Tigers would have to beat that prospect. Someone like Beau Burrows or Christin Stewart would likely get the job done.
As it stands, the Phillies are able to wait the market out since they have at least some incentive to keep him. This may prevent Hellickson from being a complete deadline bargain, but he is still worth a hard look for the Tigers this afternoon.