The Texas Rangers have signed
leftrighthanded pitcher Chris Tillman to a minor league deal, the team announced this afternoon. Tillman was released by the Baltimore Orioles last week, and will be assigned to Round Rock. (Ed. Note — Like A.J. Griffin, Tillman is one of those pitchers I always think is lefthanded when they are actually righthanded.)
Tillman is a guy who seems like he has been around forever, in part because he was, along with Adam Jones, one of the key pieces in the trade that sent Erik Bedard from Baltimore to Seattle before the 2008 season, but he is still just 30 years old. A second round pick of the M’s in the 2006 draft, Tillman spent parts of the 2009-11 seasons in the big leagues with the Orioles, pitching poorly, then from 2012-14 pitched well for the Orioles, had a mediocre season in 2015, pitched well in 2016, and has been awful for Baltimore the past two years.
I thought Tillman was someone the Rangers should explore signing this past offseason as a reclamation project, but he re-upped with the O’s on a one year, $3 million deal, and has been terrible, putting up a 10.46 ERA in 26.2 IP over 7 starts this year. Since the start of the 2017 season, Tillman has an 8.42 ERA and a 7.00 FIP in 119.2 IP, with 76 Ks, 68 walks and 30 home runs allowed.
Tillman is still relatively young, and has been a good pitcher in the past. Yovani Gallardo was in a similar situation, was signed to a minor league deal, and got things turned around in Round Rock, to the point he’s actually been a serviceable major league starting pitcher this season since coming up to the majors. Round Rock is currently starting folks like Michael Roth, David Hurlbut, and Adrian Sampson, and so it isn’t as if Tillman would be taking innings away from prospects there — if anything, Round Rock could use a pitcher to absorb some innings the rest of the way. As a depth signing for AAA, and as a chance to get a look at Tillman and see if there’s something salvageable there, this seems like a reasonable no-risk move.