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The Phillies are exploring dealing RHP Jeremy Hellickson

The MLB trade deadline is two and a half months away, but it’s obvious the Phillies need to make something happen before the July 31 cutoff.

For the hapless Phillies, the question is whether to buy or sell. They could address their bullpen woes and sign players that can hold a late-game lead, but that’s easier said than done. Matt Klentak appears to have invested his time in stockpiling talented prospects, whether that be acquiring young pitchers or hitters.

The Phillies need to call-up some of those prospects before the season concludes, more notably Roman Quinn, Rhys Hoskins, Dylan Cozens and Nick Williams.

The Phillies can also add to those standout prospects by being sellers over the next few months. They aren’t making a playoff run anytime soon, so they should get something for the assets they currently have and do not anticipate maintaining. But who can the Phillies trade and what can they expect the return to be?

Just putting it out there, the return probably won’t be that much. If you don’t believe me, you’re not watching that many games. The return, however, may be more valuable for players like Odubel Herrera or Cesar Hernandez, but the Phillies would be fools to trade them as they are the centerpiece to the team right now.

According to a recent report on ESPN, the Phillies have already begun that thought process with another player- right-hander Jeremy Hellickson.

Hellickson has a 4-1 record with a 3.71 ERA in eight starts this season. That is a slight drop from his 1.80 ERA through his first five starts. Hellickson actually threw deep into games during that time frame, but in May he has put up a 7.20 ERA and the longest he has pitched in a game has been five innings.

Despite that fact, Hellickson has arguably been the best starting pitcher on the Phillies roster, after signing a $17.2 million contact this past offseason, there are expectations to be met.

And even though Hellickson is a somewhat consistent pitcher (he ended last season with the same 3.71 ERA he currently has), it would be wise for the Phillies to trade Hellickson while he has some value.

Let’s explore both sides.

The Phillies, like many teams in Philadelphia, are in the midst of a rebuild. They are in third place in the NL East (nine games back from the Nationals) and 5 1/2 games back from the second wild card spot.

But we all know the Phillies aren’t making the postseason. Even by some miracle they do, they won’t go very far.

Hellickson has also seen a drop in his strikeout rate from last year (7.3 K/9 to 3.7 K/9). Despite his lack of strikeouts this season, however, the Phillies need to listen to outside offers for Hellickson. He is not a long-time pitcher on their roster, otherwise they would have signed him to a longer deal in the offseason. It’s hard to imagine Hellickson being a Phillie for a long time.

Because pitching is always in demand, the Phillies will find a proper suitor. They just have to accept the best deal. That’s why they need to move Hellickson before the deadline.

But at the same time, the Phillies need starting pitching. Any rebuilding team demands strong starters to chew up innings, especially in the Phillies case since they lack any decent reliever or closer. Sadly, that is the only valid reason to keep Hellickson around.

The Phillies have to be sellers, especially when it comes to Hellickson. They just need to listen to the best offer for Hellickson and let the other teams cough-up their assets. There are playoff contending teams that could use a starter such as Hellickson. There is no harm in just listening. The Phillies can’t ask for much in return for a not-so great arm, but they can still sell Hellickson for a good price without becoming buyers. And if the Phillies don’t like what they hear, they don’t have to move the pitcher…

But it would be very smart to trade Hellickson before it becomes too late. Then the Phillies can always become buyers after this season, when the free agent market will be more open.

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