Baltimore Orioles: Just say no to a Wade Miley return to Birdland
Believe it or not, the Baltimore Orioles have actually talked to Wade Miley and Chris Tillman about returning to Birdland in 2018.
Yeah, I was hoping for other news from the Baltimore Orioles, too.
According to a report from The Baltimore Sun by Eduardo A. Encina, the discussion was about “low-base salary, high-incentive deals.”
While the discussion seems honest and good-hearted for Miley and Tillman, it really just looks like the Orioles front office wants inexpensive arms. Encina reported that the discussion was about Miley and Tillman using the 2018 season to show what can really do for free agency in 2019. Really, though, one more year with the same old thing is one year too many.
Do you really want to see the same starting pitchers in 2018?
The day after the World Series is finished, Tillman and Miley (and Ubaldo Jimenez) become free agents. This means that the Orioles will need to find a few replacements for these arms that were rather disappointing in 2017 and in previous seasons.
If the Orioles actually want to keep Miley, they would have to pay him $12 million. After a 5.61 ERA in 2017 and a 6.17 ERA in 2016, $12 million sounds like a waste of money. If the front office decides to let him go he gets $500,000. In the world of baseball money, that is a bargain. In 2017, Miley led the AL in walking batters giving up 93 free bases. Walks are deadly for teams in the MLB.
Wouldn’t it be better to let Miley prove himself on a different team? He has already proven that he cannot get the job done in Baltimore.
Tillman might not be a bad choice to return
Chris Tillman might be a slightly different story. Even though he was originally drafted by the Seattle Mariners, he has spent his MLB career with the Orioles. Other than his 2017 season, Tillman hasn’t been horrible. Without the 2017 season factored into his stats, his career ERA is 4.13. He did spend most of 2017 recovering from a shoulder injury which definitely affected his performance.
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Tillman does not have a buyout or option for 2018. He will simply become a free agent. If the Orioles can get him for quarters on the dollar AND he can get back to his 4.13 ERA form (or even his 3.82 ERA from 2016), Orioles fans will be satisfied.
One argument for the possibility of Miley’s return to Birdland is that he is a left-handed pitcher. This argument is not enough of a reason to keep Miley. Yes, there aren’t as many lefties as there are right-handed hurlers, but just being a southpaw is not a reason to keep a pitcher who has a 5.75 ERA and 1.689 WHIP in two seasons. If a pitcher is good, it shouldn’t matter what hand he uses for knock-out strike throwing.
Hot Stove excitement could be just a few hours away
The Orioles will enter the Hot Stove season with an estimated payroll of $119 million that is guaranteed to returning players according to Roster Resource. This puts them in a good position to get a few arms or even a pricy left-handed one. Most of the pitchers on the free agent list are over the age of 30, but when it comes to starting pitchers, many get better with a little age and experience.
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If the Orioles bring back Tillman for a reasonable contract, they might not have to sign more than one arm and they could splurge. Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, and Gabriel Ynoa should be ready to pitch in 2018. Depending on their off-season work and spring training performances, Alec Asher and Miguel Castro could move to the rotation. Tillman might be an asset to a rotation like that. Then, all the Orioles need to do is sign a good (left-handed?) pitcher who is not named Wade Miley.