Free-agent righty Chris Tillman is weighing offers and preparing to make a decision in short order, according to Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun. The Orioles are joined by the Twins and two other organizations in the picture for Tillman’s services, per the report, which also suggests that Tillman is willing to take an incentive-laden contract as he looks to return to form after a miserable 2017 season. With the Minnesota organization also said to be involved on some other hurlers, its ongoing involvement is especially interesting to note — though it’s also fair to wonder whether the team’s reported agreement with another bounceback candidate (Anibal Sanchez) will dampen its interest. We’ve seen real movement on the starting pitching market of late; with Tillman also seemingly nearing a deal, it’ll be interesting to see whether the same holds for some other free agents.
Here’s more from the AL East:
- The Blue Jays are still in the market for pitching after signing Jaime Garcia, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports (Twitter links). With the rotation set, though, the club is now looking at the bullpen, with GM Ross Atkins saying there are still some funds available to work with. Interestingly, per Atkins, the team does not seemingly intend to use Joe Biagini in a relief role. Instead, the provisional plan seems to be for him to work as a starter through camp and remain stretched out when the season opens, even if that means working at Triple-A.
- Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman may not have enjoyed his arbitration experience, but that doesn’t mean he’s unhappy with the organization. As Nicholson-Smith writes, Stroman expressed today a keen interest in pursuing a long-term deal. Saying he loves everything about playing for Canada’s team, Stroman indicated that he’s “hoping to have talks soon” with the front office. It’s not immediately clear how likely it is that the 26-year-old will find common ground with the organization, but clearly he’s open to the idea. As a 3+ service-class pitcher who turned in a top-quality 2017 effort, Stroman could conceivably look to last winter’s Carlos Martinez contract as a comp.
- The feeling is a bit different for Red Sox star Mookie Betts. Per Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, via Twitter, Betts says he does not intend to discuss a contract between now and the end of the season. There’s no lingering discord over his own arbitration hearing, in which he came away with $3MM more than the team wanted to pay him. Still, Betts says he won’t consider a lengthier deal until 2018 is in the books — though indications are he might be willing to talk at that time. Of course, a big season could leave the 25-year-old with ample leverage. He’s already slated to earn $10.5MM for the coming season, setting him up for massive potential total arbitration earnings.