The Nationals are bringing back right-handed pitcher Jeremy Hellickson on a one-year, $1.3 million major-league deal that includes $4 million in potential incentives. SiriusXM’s Craig Mish, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, and MLB.com’s Jamal Collier were among those to report the news on Wednesday morning:
Hellickson goes to Nats. 1.3M plus 4M incentives.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 6, 2019
Per @JonHeyman Hellickson deal w Nats done at 1.3 incentives up to 4 mil tied to games started are :— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) February 6, 2019
3/5/7/9/11/12/14/16/18/21/23 200k each
Can confirm the Nats and Hellickson have agreed to a Major League deal. @JonHeyman says it will pay him $1.3 million with the potential for $4 million in incentives— Jamal Collier (@JamalCollier) February 6, 2019
Hellickson, 31, had a fantastic 2018 campaign for the Nats, delivering plenty of surplus value after joining the team on a minor-league deal in mid-March. Just one season removed from posting a miserable 5.43 ERA over 30 starts split between the Phillies and Orioles, the 2011 AL Rookie of the Year returned to his previous form, throwing for a 3.45 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. His strikeout totals were a bit concerning, as he punched out just 65 hitters over 91.1 innings while walking 20, and he also missed nearly two months due to a pair of injuries — a hamstring strain in June and a wrist sprain in August.
With Washington’s top four starters — Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, and Anibal Sanchez — locked in, Hellickson is likely to battle for the fifth starter spot with Joe Ross and Erick Fedde in spring training. He has virtually no experience out of the bullpen, as he has just seven career relief appearances — the last of which came in 2013 — so it’d be interesting to see how he’d adjust if asked to pitch in relief to start the season. Either way, he should end up starting some games this year as the Nats deal with injuries and try to manage workloads, and bringing him back into the fold is a strong move for a club that has repeatedly been burned by a lack of starting pitching depth beyond the first five during GM Mike Rizzo’s tenure.