Washington Nationals agree to bring back Jeremy Hellickson

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WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 22: Jeremy Hellickson #58 of the Washington Nationals pitches in the second inning against the San Diego Padres at Nationals Park on May 22, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 22: Jeremy Hellickson #58 of the Washington Nationals pitches in the second inning against the San Diego Padres at Nationals Park on May 22, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /
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After rumors late last night of a possible reunion between the Washington Nationals and Jeremy Hellickson, it now appears an agreement has been reached.

There were rumors of the Washington Nationals bringing back Jeremy Hellickson late on Tuesday night. Now the two sides appear to be in an agreement on a deal as the Nats look to expand their starting pitching depth.

Craig Mish of SiriusXM was the first to report the two sides were talking last night, with Jamal Collier of MLB.com noting talks were progressing this morning. Then Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports reported that the deal was done for $1.3 million with $4 million in incentives.

Hellickson is coming off of a solid season with the Nationals in 2018 where he went 5-3 with a 3.45 ERA in 19 starts. He even posted career-best number in several categories such as BB/9 and WHIP as he appeared to fit into the role the Nats had designed for him.

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That role was that of a shorter starter who would rarely face the opposing batting order a third time through. Hitters possessed a .537 OPS the first time they faced the right-hander, a .658 OPS the second time through, before torching him for a 1.221 OPS the third time they faced him.

That will likely be the plan once again for Hellickson in 2019 as he will have a good chance to compete for, and potentially win the fifth starter job this spring. That’s likely to leave fellow starter Joe Ross in an interesting position.

Ross is coming off of an injury-shortened season in which he was recovering from Tommy John surgery, and was only able to make three big league starts. That leaves question marks as to whether he can make a full season’s worth of starts in 2019, triggering the move for Hellickson.

One option could be that the Nationals send Ross down to Triple-A and manage his innings down there, acting as the next man up in the case of an injury. Or perhaps they could keep Ross around in the majors as a long-man in the bullpen, which could be especially useful for Hellickson’s starts that aren’t expected to last long.

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Jeremy Hellickson was a diamond that Mike Rizzo found in the rough for the Washington Nationals last season. The team will be hoping that he can produce similar results this year and potentially be an effective fifth starter.

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