Former Phillies prospect gets eyebrow-raising contract from Mets


The Mets have added a former Phillie, kind of.

In a move that drew attention because of the unique major-league guarantee, the Mets agreed to a deal with former Phillies farmhand Sam McWilliams. Per Jon Heyman, the one-year, $750,000 contract is the largest free-agent salary in the last decade for a player with no MLB service time who didn't come over from Asia.

McWilliams is a 6-foot-7 right-handed pitcher. The Phillies drafted him out of Beech HS in Tennessee in the eighth round in 2014, the same draft that produced Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins.

McWilliams was the prospect the Phillies traded to Arizona five years ago this week for Jeremy Hellickson. The D-backs quickly flipped McWilliams to Tampa Bay for Steven Souza Jr.

At first glance, a one-year, $750,000 deal would mean little. But the Mets must see something in the 25-year-old McWilliams to guarantee the deal and add him to their 40-man roster despite his most recent results. In 2019 at Triple A Durham in the Rays' system, McWilliams was 1-6 with an 8.18 ERA and allowed 72 hits in 44 innings. That was his first taste of Triple A.

Under MLB's newest and richest owner Steve Cohen, the Mets will spend aggressively. But this still raises eyebrows because 40-man roster spots are precious. To guarantee the deal, they must think McWilliams has a chance to contribute for them in the majors in 2021.

Hellickson was with the Phillies in 2016 and 2017 and made opening day starts both years. He went 18-15 with a 4.09 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 52 starts as a Phillie.

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