Jeremy Hellickson has been traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for a pair of minor leaguers, outfielder Justin Williams and shortstop Andrew Velazquez. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first reported that the deal was done, with Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish relaying the inclusion of Williams and Nick Piecoro of AZ Central reporting that the Rays will receive Velazquez.
The Rays had been known to be shopping the 27-year-old right-hander this offseason, with reports earlier this week that Tampa Bay was close to trading Hellickson to a National League team. Hellickson is projected to earn $3.9 million next year in arbitration, according to MLB Trade Rumors. Due to become a free agent at the end of the 2016 season, Hellickson joins James Shields, Matt Garza, David Price, and Edwin Jackson as starting pitchers that the Rays have traded away before they hit free agency.
Hellickson, the 118th overall pick in the 2005 Draft by the Rays, has been struggling with elbow problems over the past two season, since his Rookie of the Year campaign back in 2011. That year he put up a 13-10 record, along with a 2.95 ERA and a 4.44 FIP. Also, he produced a 1.63 K/BB ratio, along with a 1.6 fWAR. Hellickson has struggled to put up similar numbers to his rookie season. Last season, after missing most of the first half of the season due to elbow surgery, Hellickson recorded a 1-5 record in 13 starts, along with a 4.52 ERA and a 4.15 FIP over 63.2 innings pitched.
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Williams, 19, was the 52nd overall pick out of high school in the 2013 Draft by the Diamondbacks. Split between rookie ball and Single-A ball, Williams hit .351/.403/.467 with four home runs ad 46 runs batted in. In two minor league seasons, Williams has slashed .351/.401/.461 in 125 career minor league games, hitting five home runs and driving in 83 runs. According to FanGraphs, Williams has an average arm, along with sub-par defense, so his bat will have to carry him up through the minors. Scouts say that he needs to adjust better to curveballs if he wants to have any success in the majors one day.
Velazquez, 20, was the 243rd overall pick in the 2012 Draft by Arizona. Last season with the Diamondbacks’ Single-A affiliate, Velazquez hit .290/.367/.428 with nine home runs and 56 runs batted in. In 243 minor league games spanning over three seasons between rookie ball and Single-A ball, Velazquez has slashed .283/.356/.407 with ten home runs and 96 runs batted in. FanGraphs says that out of the Diamondbacks’ three best organizational shortstops, Velazquez had the most power, hitting from both sides of the plate. Fitting in as a shortstop at the moment, some scouts say that later on he will fit better at second base or maybe even in a utility role.