Hypothetically speaking, the Twins need pitching, right? We've been told from the mouth of babes (Terry Ryan and friends) that Free agency does not solve all of your issues. TR did say earlier this fall, "I think you are mistaken when you don't think $21 million is huge," Now, even though the Twins have plenty of cap space to make a "splash", I'm more convinced T.R. will supplement the trade market to find a piece and his target, (read: my target) is Jeremy Hellickson.
Hellickson made his Major league debut against the Twins in 2010 and solidified himself as a very promising young pitcher. In 62 starts from 2011-2012, nobody on the Rays' staff had a lower ERA than Hellickson. That's a rotation including James Shields and David Price, by the way, even though both Shields and Price did pitch 100 more innings than Hellickson in that span. Hellickson is not necessarily the power pitcher that those two are, but his stuff is certainly nasty. Opponents hit .222 against him in those 60 starts, a figure better than that posted by King Felix, Zach Grenkie, Cliff Lee and Johnny Cueto. Hellickson was recognized with Rookie of the Year honors in 2011 and also won a Gold Glove in 2012. However, this past season was not kind to the young star.
The knock on Hellickson's game is not being able to go deep enough into games, and keeping the ball in the ballpark. In 2013, Hellickson made 31 starts, which were the most by a Rays pitcher this year. It was same amount he made in 2012, but the results were an ERA of 5.17, third highest in Major League Baseball. There was even a demotion to Triple-A in August. And an ugly playoff start which bounced the Rays out of the playoffs.
In spite of the right-hander's beleaguered campaign, the Rays pushed through behind the talented arms of David Price, Matt More, Alex Cobb and Chris Archer. Price has been the subject of trade talks, and many for see him changing uniforms this winter, but that stockpile of pitching talent could mean Hellickson is expendable.
His down year, and the pending Rays free-agents-to-be, may cause the Rays to sell one of their young pups in order to free up payroll and stock up on talent in areas of lesser depth. Hellickson's abysmal 2013 may have lowered the return value Tampa would like to get back, but that doesn't mean the Rays will be selling low. Knowing Andrew Friedman and the staff of the Rays, they'll most certainly find and pick out the right pieces. That being said, if Tampa would be willing to part with Hellickson, whom would they command in the deal and who would the Twins be willing to give up?
- Option 1: Danny Santana and Jose Berrios for Hellickson
- Option 2: Eddie Rossario, Adam Walker and Pedro Florimon for Hellickson
- Option 3 (Wild one): Aaron Hicks, Josh Willingham and Trevor May for Hellickson
Hellickson fits with the Twins because his style of pitching resembles quick and easy "Twins-Way" fixes that could make Hellickson the pitcher he was the two previous seasons. Keeping the ball in the ballpark has been a problem, and Target Field, as a much deeper park than Tropicana, would mitigate that issue somewhat.
As a bonus, Hellickson was born and raised in Iowa. I'm not sure if he grew up a Twins fan, but we can assume he has family somewhere in the Midwest. Let us use this for our advantage! It may be a long shot since Hellickson's name hasn't really even flirted in rumor mill, outside of what we heard earlier this week, but a Midwest boy can dream.