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MLB Trade Rumors: Phillies want top-5 prospect for Hellickson

The Phillies say they want a real, legitimate prospect in return for Jeremy Hellickson, and if they don't get one, they’ll keep him.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Miami Marlins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Phillies are not going to give Jeremy Hellickson away.

That’s the impression teams that have contacted the Phils are telling ESPN’s Jayson Stark, who tweeted on Wednesday that general manager Matt Klentak is looking for a real prospect or two in return for the effective 29-year-old hurler.

That sounds like a big ask, but it may not be quite as outlandish when you think more about it.

Each team’s farm system is different. If you’re talking about a "top 5" prospect out of the Cubs’ or Red Sox’ system, then yes, the Phillies are shooting the moon.

But a few of the clubs interested in Hellickson (Miami and Baltimore, specifically) do not have strong systems. A "top 5" prospect in their system is more like the No. 15 guy in Texas’ system.

So no, the Phillies are not looking for anyone in Baseball America’s Top 100 or anything like that. But it’s clear they don’t want to simply give Hellickson away, either.

If the Phils don’t get a buyer, Stark reported they would be content to extend Hellickson a qualifying offer after the season is over. ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted the estimate for a QO this off-season would be $16.7 million this winter, up from $15.8 million last year.

That certainly wouldn’t hurt the Phils financially. As of now, they only have about $25 million committed to next year’s payroll.

Stark noted Hellickson would almost certainly refuse the qualifying offer and become a free agent after the season. Not coincidentally, he’s a Scott Boras client.

Were the Phils to hang onto Hellickson and make him a qualifying offer he then refuses, the Phillies would get a compensatory draft pick in between the 1st and 2nd rounds of next year’s draft. That would be anywhere between picks 31-40.

And for those worried the new CBA negotiations could throw a monkey wrench into all these plans, take note.

Hellickson has been terrific for the Phillies this year, going 7-7 with a 3.65 ERA and a 4.16 FIP, striking out a career-high 7.66 batters per nine innings. But the Phillies do have Jake Thompson knocking on the door rather loudly in AAA, and the organization has lined him up to pitch on the same days as Hellickson, in the likely event Hellickson is dealt.

It appears as if the Phils are not ready to let Hellickson go for anything less than they think he’s worth. It is a thin pitching market, after all, with a number of teams looking for rotation help and very few options on the market.

I still believe it’s more likely than not the Phils move Hellickson, and it appears that if they do, they will insist on getting something legitimate in return.