The Orioles opened contract extension talks with right-hander Chris Tillman’s agent in December, though Tillman stated earlier this month that he hadn’t heard anything about a potential new deal. The 28-year-old again touched on his future Saturday, implying that the Orioles won’t have a large window to extend him if they make an earnest attempt. Tillman doesn’t expect contract discussions to begin until spring training, and he’d prefer not to engage in any once the season starts, he informed Rich Dubroff of PressBoxonline.com (Twitter link). In what could be his last year as an Oriole, Tillman is slated to rake in $10.05MM.
More from Baltimore and two other East Coast cities:
- One of Tillman’s teammates, Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, said Saturday he wants “more speed” and “more athleticism” in the team’s outfield (via Paul Folkemer of BaltimoreBaseball.com). General manager Dan Duquette, meanwhile, acknowledged that “the outfield defense is an area where the club can improve” and talked up Rule 5 picks Aneury Tavarez and Anthony Santander as potential solutions. The Orioles had the worst defensive outfield in the majors by measure of both Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating last year, but – Rule 5 choices aside – they haven’t done much to improve in that area. Seth Smith, who’s not exactly a defensive ace, has been the team’s only prominent outfield acquisition from outside, while it also brought back the bat-first Mark Trumbo. Jones spoke on the pair, saying, “They’re very good athletes, but they’re not top of the line defensive players first.”
- Kris Medlen, a two-time Tommy John recipient and the newest member of the Braves organization, may have retired if not for a biomechanics instructor helping to reinvigorate the 31-year-old, writes Mark Bowman of MLB.com. Medlen, who missed all of 2014 and ’15 and then threw just 24 1/3 frames with the Royals last season, will attempt to reestablish himself in Atlanta, where he produced terrific results from 2009-13. “We’re all excited about being part of the Braves’ family again,” said Medlen, who lives in Atlanta with his family.
- The Yankees’ young pitching depth is lacking a clear-cut potential ace, scouts tell Bleacher Report’s Danny Knobler, though there’s still a lot of promising talent in the system. “There are not a lot of givens with their guys. They could end up with the best pitching on the planet, or they could have problems,” one NL scout said. Justus Sheffield, acquired as part of the Andrew Miller trade last summer, may be the most intriguing of the bunch. “A lot of people love [Sheffield]….When teams talk to the Yankees about trades, he’s the one they ask for,” an NL executive said.
- Righty Luis Severino is among the Yankees’ highest-upside pitchers, but the 22-year-old disappointed as a starter last season after a promising showing in 2015. Severino laid out why he posted a 8.50 ERA across 11 major league starts in 2016, telling Brendan Kuty of NJ Advance Media that he had release point issues with his fastball, changeup and slider. With the help of both Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild and the legendary Pedro Martinez, Severino has worked to fix those problems this offseason. “I’m doing very well,” Severino said. “I’ve been throwing my bullpen and my changeup is way better than last year. My fastball location is better, too. So hopefully in spring training it’ll be good.” Severino also “dropped like 10 pounds” at the insistence of the Yankees, who will continue to use him as a starter – whether in the bigs or the Triple-A level to begin 2017 – despite a superb 23 1/3-inning run as a reliever last year. Although Severino logged a pristine 0.39 ERA and held batters to a laughable .105/.209/.158 line out of the bullpen, he’d rather start. “(Brian Cashman) knows I’m going to be a good starter,” he said. “I’m happy with that. I want to start. That’s my goal.”