Chris Tillman Re-Signs with Orioles on Reported 1-Year Contract

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 21, 2018

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 24:  Chris Tillman #30 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 24, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
G Fiume/Getty Images

Chris Tillman has returned to the Baltimore Orioles after agreeing to a one-year contract.

Baltimore announced the deal Wednesday after Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com reported the contract Monday.

Tillman is coming off the worst season of his MLB career. The 29-year-old right-hander didn't debut until May 7 as he spent April rehabbing a lingering shoulder injury.

The shoulder may have been an issue for Tillman throughout the 2017 campaign as he finished 1-7 with a 7.84 ERA in 24 appearances. According to FanGraphs, his 6.93 FIP was the highest among pitchers who logged at least 90 innings.

Beginning in August, Tillman shuttled between the rotation and the bullpen. Orioles manager Buck Showalter questioned whether the shoulder injury factored into the pitcher's poor performance.

"What would the indicators be?" Showalter said to reporters. "He's throwing the ball harder than he has in the last two or three years. He's throwing the ball 92-94 [mph] last night."

Showalter's assessment was a little off the mark, though. According to Brooks Baseball, Tillman's fastball averaged 91.24 mph, and his sinker clocked in at 90.89 mph. He averaged 92.90 and 92.74 mph on the two pitches, respectively, in 2016.

Pitching with an injury would help explain why a pitcher who had a career 4.13 ERA and a 4.45 FIP, per Baseball Reference, became one of the worst starters in baseball. Tillman also walked 4.9 batters per nine innings in 2017, compared to 3.2 from 2009 to 2016.

MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko questioned whether Tillman would want to stay in Baltimore after such a rough season.  

"It makes no sense on the surface for a pitcher attempting to reestablish his value on the market to reside in the American League East and call Camden Yards home," Kubatko wrote. "But I've also heard about the lure of being in an organization that already knows him and likely would exhibit more patience if he gets off to a slow start in spring training."  

Tillman could be a solid bounce-back candidate in 2018. If his shoulder was bothering him, then he has had an entire offseason to rest and get back to 100 percent. The opportunity to pitch his way to a bigger contract will also be a strong incentive.  

Over his career, Tillman has been a mid-rotation starter, so expecting him to pitch like an ace in 2018 is unrealistic. Should he return to his pre-2017 self, though, he'll be a solid value signing for the Orioles.  

Related

    Cubs Reportedly 'Main Player' in Trade Talks for Zach Britton

    Baltimore Orioles logo
    Baltimore Orioles

    Cubs Reportedly 'Main Player' in Trade Talks for Zach Britton

    NBC Sports Chicago
    via NBC Sports Chicago

    What Exactly Did the O's Get in Return for Machado?

    Baltimore Orioles logo
    Baltimore Orioles

    What Exactly Did the O's Get in Return for Machado?

    NBC Sports Washington
    via NBC Sports Washington

    Ohtani (Elbow) Cleared to Pitch

    MLB logo
    MLB

    Ohtani (Elbow) Cleared to Pitch

    Kyle Newport
    via Bleacher Report

    Duquette: Orioles Are Rebuilding, Intend to Improve Organizational Weaknesses

    Baltimore Orioles logo
    Baltimore Orioles

    Duquette: Orioles Are Rebuilding, Intend to Improve Organizational Weaknesses

    R.J. Anderson
    via CBSSports.com