Orioles announce Chris Tillman signing

SARASOTA, Fla. - The deal is official. Chris Tillman is coming back to the Orioles for the 2018 season, a match that made sense since the early days of free agency.

Tillman passed his physical and signed his one-year contract worth a guaranteed $3 million. Incentives can push it to $10 million.

There was a delay in the Orioles getting the necessary paperwork, which forced Tillman to miss yesterday’s workout. The delay carried through the night. But nothing that threatened to nix the agreement.

Both sides are banking on a bounceback season, which explains the pillow contract. The Orioles need it in order to improve a rotation that posted a club-worst 5.70 ERA last summer. Tillman needs it in order to re-enter the free agent market and cash in next winter.

tillman-white-2017-side.jpgThe Orioles are working under the theory that Tillman will revert to pre-2017 form with a normal offseason and spring training, a big reason why they pushed to get a deal done this week and get him into camp. A shoulder injury forced him on the disabled list last year and ended his streak of opening day starts at three in a row.

Tillman endured the worst season of his career, going 1-7 with a 7.84 ERA and 1.892 WHIP in 24 games. Five of his appearances came out of the bullpen. His WAR dropped from 4.1 in 2016 to -2.2.

Since Tillman was allowed to work out at the complex, the Orioles were able to stay close to him and watch him throw. No other team had such extensive access and they’re confident in his recovery and ability to reverse last year’s dramatic slide.

Entering camp with Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman as their only confirmed starters, the Orioles signed Andrew Cashner and Tillman in less than a week and must decide who’s going to occupy the last spot. They have a handful of in-house candidates, including Mike Wright, Miguel Castro and Rule 5 picks Nestor Cortes Jr. and José Mesa.

Executive vice president Dan Duquette is open to signing or trading for another pitcher. There are plenty of arms left on the market that could be obtained on a minor league deal or perhaps another one-year contract with a low base salary and loaded with incentives.

Former Orioles right-hander Scott Feldman is a possibility, as previously reported. I don’t get the sense that Tim Lincecum, who recently threw for interested teams, is a consideration.

To make room for Tillman on the 40-man roster, outfielder Jaycob Brugman has been designated for assignment. The Orioles acquired Brugman from the Athletics on Nov. 22 for minor league pitcher Jake Bray, who was sent to Oakland on Dec. 19.

The camp roster remains at 62 players, including 37 pitchers.

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