The Orioles were in desperate need of starting pitching this offseason. With Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman the only reliable starters on the staff, re-signing long-term veteran Chris Tillman was part of that solution. Baltimore has re-signed Tillman to a one-year deal with the only club he has ever known.
Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports was the first to report the news:
Chris Tillman is returning to orioles. Deal agreed to.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 19, 2018
Tillman, 29, will earn a total of $3 million for the season but that number can reach $7 million if he hits certain performance incentives. Just last week, the Orioles signed Andrew Cashner to a reasonable contract to pitch as their third starter. With Cashner and Tillman in the fold, the Orioles only need one more arm. Eventually, that expectation is it will be prospect Hunter Harvey.
Tillman has only ever played for the Orioles. The former 2nd round pick of the Mariners was traded to Baltimore as part of the Erik Bedard trade. That trade might be the most successful in Orioles history. It also gave the O’s Adam Jones who has been the face of the franchise in center field ever since.
Tillman was just flat out terrible in 2017. The reason why the contract is so cheap is that his ERA of 7.84 over 93 innings just isn’t acceptable. Tillman has been a quality starter for his entire career so the hope is that last season was a fluke of some sorts. The Orioles starter also posted career worst marks in (6.1 K/9), walks (4.9 BB/9) and home runs (2.3 HR/9). His fastball velocity of (90.7 mph) also isn’t really acceptable in the modern day MLB where almost everyone throws at least 94. Tillman will have to be on his game if the Orioles have any chance to chase down the Red Sox and Yankees in the AL East.