Jeremy Hellickson accepts Phillies' qualifying offer

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson has passed up free agency and accepted the Philadelphia Phillies' $17.2 million qualifying offer.

Hellickson was 12-10 with a 3.71 ERA in a career-high 32 starts and tied a career-best with 189 innings pitched in 2016, his first season with the Phillies. The 29-year-old Hellickson is the lone veteran on a staff filled with talented young pitchers.

The Phillies gambled that Hellickson would decline the offer to pursue a multiyear deal on the open market. But teams were reluctant to give up a first-round pick as compensation for signing him.

Rebuilding Philadelphia acquired veteran infielder/outfielder Howie Kendrick from the Los Angeles Dodgers and righty reliever Pat Neshek from the Houston Astros.

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