The Orioles have had preliminary talks with righty starter Chris Tillman about an extension, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes. Encina characterizes those talks as “introductory,” suggesting that no deal is imminent.
This isn’t the first time the Orioles have expressed interest in extending Tillman, who is eligible for free agency after next season. (He is set to make a projected $10.6MM next season through the arbitration process.) As Encina notes, Orioles stars Manny Machado, Adam Jones and Zach Britton are eligible for free agency following the 2018 campaign. Extending Tillman, then, would help the O’s build a bridge between their current core and whatever that core might look like two to three years from now.
Tillman posted a 3.77 ERA, 7.3 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 172 solid innings in 2016. Those numbers roughly align with his career 4.13 ERA, 6.8 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9. Tillman has rarely been among the AL’s top starters, but he’s been reliable and healthy, having pitched at least 172 frames in each of the past four seasons. (He did, however, miss a few weeks with a shoulder inflammation this season.) Those qualities could make him good money next winter, especially since he’ll be just 29. If extension talks with the Orioles do progress, Tillman’s camp could point to recently extended starters with five-plus years of service time such as Homer Bailey (who received six years and $105MM and an option) and Rick Porcello (four years, $82MM) as potential templates.