The Baltimore Orioles are bringing back veteran righty Chris Tillman on an incentive-laden one-year deal.
In a move that felt highly inevitable given the fact that he had been working out at the club’s Spring Training facilities for most of the offseason, the Baltimore Orioles have agreed to a one-year deal with right-handed starter Chris Tillman. Coming off the worst season of his career, Tillman will look to rebuild his value on a one-year deal with the O’s.
According to Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports, the base salary for Tillman will be $3 million with the potential to earn up to $10 million with incentives. Both sides will be very happy if Tillman pitches well enough to trigger all of his escalators.
Last year was a nightmare season for Tillman and the Orioles. He missed his expected Opening Day start while dealing with lingering shoulder trouble that plagued him in the second half of the 2016 season. The 30-year-old finished the year 1-7 with a 7.84 ERA in 24 games, 19 starts, and allowed 125 hits and 24 home runs in only 93.0 innings of work. Tillman also walked 4.9 per nine and threw 11 wild pitches as he struggled to maintain his release point.
Every single person in the Orioles organization is hoping to avoid a repeat of the disastrous 2017 season that saw the starting rotation pitch to a 5.70 ERA, the worst in MLB. Baltimore starters also had the worst WHIP in baseball and allowed the second-most home runs. The Orioles also allowed 100 runs in the first inning and went endured a stretch of over 20 games in a row allowing at least five runs.
If the Orioles are to field a competitive team in 2018, it will have to start with the rotation. Andrew Cashner signed a two-year deal last week, but the team still has one more slot to fill, assuming Tillman’s shoulder is even recovered enough to make the rotation. At no point last year, did Tillman look remotely close to the pitcher who went 65-33 with a 3.81 ERA from 2012 to 2016 and made an All-Star team in 2013.
Owner Peter Angelos is notoriously gunshy when it comes to signing starting pitchers to long-term deals — even more so after wasting $50 million on Ubaldo Jimenez — but it the Orioles are serious about winning in Manny Machado’s final year, they may have to bit the bullet and sign Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn to complete the rotation.