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Rays rumors: Jeremy Hellickson, James Shields

Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, not James Shields, has been the most popular Rays starting pitcher when it’s come to trade talks.

J. Meric

Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, not James Shields, has been the most popular Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher when it’s come to trade talks, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com:

Jeremy Hellickson – not James Shields – is the most popular Rays starting pitcher in early trade talks so far, sources say.

Shields has been the Rays’ starter that’s gotten the most publicity this offseason, especially since the team picked up his option for the 2013 season. His salary for next season, $10.25 million, is extremely high in the context of Tampa Bay’s limited payroll, and this led many to speculate that the right-hander will be dealt this offseason.

However, a majority of the Rays’ phone calls received have been regarding Hellickson, who’s younger and less expensive than Shields. While Heyman notes that Tampa Bay has been able to lock up their young stars for relative bargains, this may not be an option with Hellickson who is represented by Scott Boras.

Over 31 starts for the Rays last season Hellickson maintained an ERA of 3.10. The 25-year-old has posted an ERA of 3.06 over 70 appearances, including 64 starts, at the major league level.