The Phillies have selected right-hander Jeremy Hellickson as their Opening Day starter, per a team announcement on Sunday. Hellickson is slated to start against the Reds on April 3, when the Phillies will open their season on the road in Cincinnati.
This marks Hellickson’s second consecutive Opening Day assignment with Philadelphia. After signing a one-year, $7 million deal with the club in 2016, he delivered some of the best results of his career, turning in a 3.71 ERA, 3.42 K/BB and 3.2 fWAR in 189 innings. He accepted a $17.2 million qualifying offer at the end of the year and is scheduled to hit free agency following the 2017 season.
Grapefruit League competition has not been nearly as kind to Hellickson, tabbing him with 26 hits and 18 runs over 18 innings pitched this spring. His shaky start to the year doesn’t appear to have compromised either his starting role or his Opening Day gig, however, especially considering that he’s the highest-paid player on the roster and has a fairly stable track record in regular season play.
The Reds have yet to announce their Opening Day starter, though it will likely come down to left-hander Brandon Finnegan or right-hander Scott Feldman.
Last night Robinson Cano hit a solo homer in the ninth inning of the Mariners’ loss to the Texas Rangers. It was his 22nd on the season. Though it was insignificant to the outcome of that game, it was significant to Cano: it was his 300th career homer.
While we’ve become accustomed to not caring much about home run milestones south of, say, 500, 300 homers for Cano is a big deal, as he’s only the third second baseman to cross that threshold in baseball history. The other two: Jeff Kent, at 377, and Rogers Hornsby at 301.
Cano, who turns 35 next month, has a career line of .305/.354/.495 and 1,179 RBI, 512 doubles and 33 triples to go with those bombs. He’s in his 13th big league season and still has six more years left on his deal with the Mariners. He’s averaged 24 homers a year since coming to the Mariners. While he’ll obviously trail off at some point — and while great second baseman’s have this weird habit of just suddenly falling off a cliff — it’s highly likely that he’ll finish his career as the all-time home run leader among second baseman. If he remains healthy he should also get over 3,000 hits in his career.
Cooperstown, here he comes.
Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that the Reds have signed catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year contract extension. The terms: $16 million total, with a $7.5 million club option for the 2022 season that has a $500,000 buyout. He also received a $1.75 million signing bonus.
The deal buys out all three of his arbitration years — he was going to be eligible for the first time this offseason — and the first year of his potential free agency. The club option buys a second. Barnhart made $575,000 this season.
Barnhart, 26, is finishing his second season as the Reds primary catcher. This year he’s hitting .272/.349/.399 with six homers and 42 RBI in 113 games. For his career he has a line of .257/.328/.366 in 330 major league games. His real value is defensive, however. He leads the National League in caught stealing percentage and number of base stealers caught (31-for-70, 44%) and leads all players at any position in the league in defensive WAR according to Baseball-Reference.com.