Free agent Chris Tillman is returning to the Orioles. The right-hander, who had been working out in Sarasota of late, has agreed to a Major League contract according to multiple MLB.com sources. The club has not confirmed the deal.
Tillman’s return should help bolster a rotation that also saw the Orioles sign free-agent Andrew Cashner to a two-year deal with an option last week. Tillman, a bounceback candidate, drew interest from several other clubs including the Twins, Jays and Tigers. He threw for the Tigers over the weekend though the main issue was 40-man roster space for other clubs including Detroit, which was interested in a Minor League deal with a big league camp invite for Tillman.
It’s unclear if the O’s were the only team that offered a Major League contract to Tillman, who will get a guaranteed $3 million and could earn up to $10 million in an incentive-laden contract that will allow him to re-establish his value before re-entering the free-agent market.
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Tillman, 29, has spent his entire nine-year major-league career with the Orioles, who acquired the right-hander as part of a blockbuster trade with the Seattle Mariners in 2008.
Tillman went 56-30 and was one of Baltimore’s top pitchers from 2013-2016, but struggled with shoulder injuries last season and went 1-7 with a 7.84 ERA in 19 starts and five relief appearances.
Tillman reportedly drew interest as a free agent from multiple teams other than Baltimore this offseason, including the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins.
Tillman joins Cashner, whom the Orioles signed to a two-year deal worth $16MM last week, as the second arm added to a rotation that was in dire need of some veteran additions entering the offseason. Baltimore had as many as three vacancies to fill, and GM Dan Duquette has said in the past that he’d like to add a left-hander to the mix, so it’s possible that there’s another addition yet to come. Assuming he passes his physical, Tillman will slot into the rotation behind Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy and the newly signed Cashner, giving Baltimore a fairly experienced quartet of arms on which to rely.
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