The Arizona Diamondbacks have acquired right-hander Jeremy Hellickson from the Tampa Bay Rays, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo reported that a deal was close.
In return for Hellickson, the Rays will be receiving two prospects, outfielder Justin Williams and shortstop Andrew Velazquez, reports Cotillo here and here. Hellickson will add much-needed starting pitching depth to the Diamondbacks, and while underperformance and a surgery to remove loose bodies from his right elbow have lowered his stock, the move is a good one for Arizona.
Hellickson, 27, was drafted in the 4th round of the 2005 MLB Draft by the Rays. He broke into the major leagues in 2010 at age 23 and won the AL Rookie of the Year award the following season. Hellickson was thought to be the next big thing for the Rays, especially after going 23-21 with a 3.02 ERA and a 126 ERA+ in his first two full seasons in the majors, logging 366 innings.
Hellickson didn't have a high strikeout-to-walk ratio -- he averaged 1.84 strikeouts per walk -- but he was able to get the outs he needed and got the job done for Tampa Bay. The former number six overall prospect (as ranked by Baseball America) was starting to blossom with a potential to be an ace.
However, over the past two seasons, Hellickson has almost been someone else. He posted a disastrous 5.17 ERA and a 74 ERA+ in 2013 and was never able to get it going this past season, posting a 4.52 ERA and a 82 ERA+ in 63.2 innings pitched, before being shut down due to surgery. Perhaps a change of scenery with Arizona will get Hellickson back to who he was before.
In return, the Rays got two very intriguing prospects. They received 18-year-old outfielder Justin Williams, who was the Diamondbacks' 2nd round pick in 2013. Williams hit .351/.403/.467 in 320 plate appearances between Rookie and Single-A ball and has a chance to be pretty good. Williams recorded 102 hits in only 291 at bats (!!!). They also received 2012 7th round pick shortstop Andrew Velazquez, who posted a .290/.367/.428 line in 623 plate appearances in Single-A.
Diamondbacks starters posted the fourth-worst ERA in 2014. The acquisition of Hellickson, which is a medium-risk, high-reward deal, will be interesting, but if they can get the old Hellickson, they definitely will have made a solid move as they look to get back to contention.