Jeremy Hellickson was almost the first acquisition by new GM Dave Stewart, being received from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for two minor-leaguers Andrew Velazquez and Justin Williams. That was a year to the day ago, and it's safe to say the results from Hellickson this season were underwhelming. Rather than rebounding to the level which won him AL Rookie of the Year in 2011, he went 9-12 with a 4.62 ERA, which is an ERA+ of 88. As a third-year arbitration guy, he would have been in line for a significant bump up from the $4.275 million he cost this season, and would likely have been the most expensive returning pitcher on our roster.
There was a strong sense that Hellickson might have been a non-tender candidate, with the team having a plethora of credible alternatives to provide better production at a far lower cost, so this move is immediately better, because it gets something in return, rather than simply letting the pitcher walk. Sam McWilliams was the Phillies' 8th-round pick in 2014, and put up a 3.27 ERA over seven starts for their affiliate in the rookie Gulf Coast League [the Florida version of the AZL] He turned 20 on September 4, so is still very much a future consideration. He's a tall drink of water, cited at 6'7" and 190 pounds, or as one Tweet put it:
Sam McWilliams is a 20 y/o pitcher. He is 6'7" and was acquired so we would have someone to use @BMcCarthy32's old pants.— JJ Putz Soul Patch (@JJsSoulPatch) November 14, 2015
From the D-backs point of view, it probably clears $6 million or so of salary for 2016, which can instead be used to help fund a genuine top of the rotation pitcher. From a fan perspective, the main benefit is no longer having to sit through any more Hellickson's starts, which were so painfully slow, it was like watching an adaptation of a Dostoevsky novel by a Finnish theater company. It does cross one name off the potential rotation candidates for next season, so right now, I would say it's Corbin, Ray, Blair, Bradley and take your pick of De La Rosa, Anderson, Godley, etc. But stay tuned: this will not be the last move of the off-season, I think it's safe to say!