Righty Chris Tillman and the Orioles have “mutual interest” in an extension, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette tells Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Tillman is represented by Beverly Hills Sports Council.
“There are a few candidates for that,” says Duquette. “We haven’t spent much time on that, but contract discussion is always a good time to explore that.”
Matt Swartz’s model projects Tillman will make $5.4MM in his first year of arbitration eligibility. As Swartz notes, that would break Dontrelle Willis’ record (later tied by David Price) for first-time eligible starting pitchers, which has stood at $4.35MM for eight years. Swartz suspects, however, the model’s $5.4MM guess is a bit high.
Still, with a 13-6 record in 2014 (not a particularly important figure analytically, but a consideration in arbitration), a 3.34 ERA and 207 1/3 innings pitched, Tillman can make a very strong arbitration case. Of course, one reason Willis’ mark has stood for so long is because some candidates to break it (such as Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum and Mat Latos) have signed extensions first. All three of those pitchers initially signed two-year deals. It’s unclear if the Orioles would have interest locking Tillman up long term, or if they would want a shorter deal primarily intended to provide cost certainty for the 26-year-old’s arbitration years. If it’s the latter, Latos’ two-year, $11.5MM deal from before the 2013 season might provide a reasonable starting point for discussions.