The Baltimore Orioles traded for Jeremy Hellickson, but what does it mean and did anyone win this nothingburger of a trade?
News began circulating through the MLB Trade Rumor Mill on Friday night that the Baltimore Orioles were working on a trade for Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Jeremy Hellickson. After a 22-10 start to the season, the Orioles have completely fallen apart and have suffered through three straight losing months, mostly due to a historically-bad starting rotation.
The Orioles dealt with a streak of allowing at least five runs in 20 straight games in June. They don’t have a single starter with an ERA below 4.00. Alleged future ace Kevin Gausman is 7-7 with a 5.79 ERA and is allowing close to 12 hits per nine. Former alleged ace Chris Tillman’s shoulder is obviously still bothering him. He fell to 1-6 with a 7.65 ERA on Friday night. Wade Miley has an ERA over 10.00 since early June. Dylan Bundy already appears to be running out of gas and should be shut down in the middle of August. Ubaldo Jimenez — well, he’s Ubaldo Jimenez.
Anyway, the terms of the trade have been finalized, and the Orioles will get another warm body to try and go five innings without allowing six runs and two home runs. Let’s review the final trade and then hand out grades.
Baltimore Orioles get RHP Jeremy Hellickson, cash
Philadelphia Phillies get LHP Garrett Cleavinger, OF Hyun Soo Kim, International bonus cash
Baltimore Orioles: C-
Not much to say about this trade for the Orioles other than they did what they had to do. In no way does this rule them out from trading closer Zach Britton or setup man Brad Brach in an effort to collect a couple of top-100 prospects to help the 2018 team. Hellickson is 6-5 with a 4.78 ERA, which makes him the second-best pitcher in the Orioles rotation in terms of overall results so far this season. Hellickson is also striking out only 5.2 per nine while getting most of his contact in the air. That should play well in Camden Yards and the rest of the AL East.
This is a typical Dan Duquette trade deadline move. The Orioles exec has probably been hard at work convincing stubborn owner Peter Angelos that it is in his team’s best interest to punt on the 2017 season and try to regroup with top prospects and free cash to try and win in 2018. Alas, Britton and Brach will probably both still be Orioles come August 1.
Hellickson is by no means a useful MLB starting pitcher for a team that would like to contend, but he can eat innings for a team that needs to protect Dylan Bundy. Unless the Orioles pull off a ridiculous month of August, Bundy should be shut down before September begins. Hellickson can pull mop-up duty at that point, and it won’t really matter how many home runs he gives up. Someone has to pitch.
The thing that really gets me here is the Orioles are still sending away international bonus money. It’s now becoming a running joke that the Orioles just refuse to spend money to sign talented amateurs out of Latin America. I don’t know, maybe someone should tell Peter Angelos that his lone All-Star this year was an international amateur out of Curacao.
Trading for Hellickson here isn’t really the problem. The Orioles need someone to pitch the remaining 60 games this year. The real problem is the stubbornness by Angelos. This season is going nowhere and Manny Machado has the ability to walk after next season. The longer the O’s wait to enter a rebuild, the weaker their bargaining power will be.
Philadelphia Phillies: D
The Phillies aren’t going anywhere in the second half, and their rebuild does not look close to being over. They had a chance to trade Hellickson at the deadline last year, but elected to give him the qualifying offer, which he surprisingly decided to take. The plan for the Phillies front office was to hold out for a strong trade package for Hellickson last year because he was actually pitching well. They figured they would be able to harvest a first-round pick after he signed with another team.
Instead, the Phillies were stuck with Hellickson for another year at $17.2 million. This was a mercy trade where the Orioles took Hellickson off the Phillies’ hands. Cleavinger was a third-round pick for the Orioles in 2015 out of the University of Oregon. He is barely in the top-30 prospects in a weak system, but does have a decent fastball that can touch 96 mph. Control is his biggest issue right now, but there’s a chance Cleavinger can grow into a useful MLB reliever at some point down the road. That’s nice, but it’s hardly worth all the money the Phillies were stuck paying Hellickson this year.
Here’s the bottom line: the Phillies traded for Hellickson before the 2016 season with designs on flipping him for a solid prospect at the deadline. They held onto him and were stuck paying the qualifying offer. Getting Cleavinger is not how this was supposed to play out. The only real winner here is Hyun Soo Kim, who lost almost all of his playing time this year after Trey Mancini burst onto the scene. Kim was a fan favorite for the Orioles last season, and it’s tough to see him go, but he finally might get a chance to show he can play every day in the big leagues.