According to Jon Morosi, also known as Jon Torolololololosi around these parts, the Blue Jays have shown interested in free agent pitcher Chris Tillman.
#BlueJays have shown interest in Chris Tillman this offseason, source says. He struggled in 2017 (7.84 ERA) while dealing with shoulder issues but had 3.81 ERA over previous five years. @MLB @MLBNetwork— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 24, 2018
Tillman has spent his entire career with the Trash Birds from Baltimore to this point. He was acquired way way waaaay back when the O’s dealt Erik Bedard to Seattle and ended up with a nice haul in Adam Jones and Tillman. He’s on the free agent market for the first time in his career, but, unfortunately for him, Tillman is coming off a putrid season in which he posted a 7.84 ERA while striking out only 6.1 batters per nine and allowing 1.892 walks and hits per inning pitched.
But Tillman could be given the benefit of the doubt for his terrible season given the fact he missed all of spring training and the first month of the season with a shoulder injury. Before 2017, Tillman was actually a really solid pitcher for the Orioles, posting a 3.81 ERA between 2013 and 2016.
As recently as 2016, Tillman was the ace of Baltimore’s staff. He posted a very respectable 3.77 ERA in 2016 while striking out 7.3 batters per nine and allowing 1.285 walks and hits per inning pitched. He was good enough to get the nod against the Blue Jays in the Wild Card game, where he pitched four-and-a-third innings allowing two earned runs.
The Jays currently have Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ, Marco Estrada, and Aaron Sanchez pencilled in as four of their five starting pitchers. Joe Biagini figures to be the fifth starter, but that’s far from certain at this point. I would prefer he pitch out of the ‘pen, especially after the Jays moved effective righty Dominic Leone to St. Louis in the Randal Grichuk deal, but I could also live with Biagini starting in Triple-A. Him starting the season as the No. 5 with Sanchez still a question mark is asking for trouble.
Tillman would be a perfectly fine buy-low option for the Jays at this point. He was junk last year, but it’s reasonable to blame that showing on injuries. He doesn’t turn 30 years old until April and, up to last season, had been quite good in the American league East.
So, sure, why the hell not? Starting pitching depth is better than no starting pitching depth. I think Jonah sums it up nicely here…
Chris Tillman, 2006-2017— Jonah Birenbaum (@birenball) January 24, 2018
vs. Blue Jays (147 1/3 IP): 5.44 ERA; 1.83 HR/9; 16.4 K%
vs. Everyone Else (971 IP): 4.28 ERA; 1.19 HR/9; 17.6 K%
Still. I mean, there's no such thing as a bad minor-league deal. But still.