Brewers Rumors

Could the Brewers target Chris Tillman for a minor league deal?

Matthew Dewoskin
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 13: Chris Tillman #30 of the Baltimore Orioles heads back to the dugout after being pulled in the third inning of a game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on April 13, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 13: Chris Tillman #30 of the Baltimore Orioles heads back to the dugout after being pulled in the third inning of a game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on April 13, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /
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Do you remember Chris Tillman? He reliably gobbled up innings and posted respectable ratios for the Baltimore Orioles for most of the decade. He’s looking to come back from shoulder surgery. Should the Brewers look to add him on a minor league deal?

The Milwaukee Brewers either weren’t in on or chose not to pay any of the top free agent starting pitchers. They also don’t have the trade capital to make a major acquisition for their rotation without giving up a player that matters for their active roster. The current rotation is in need of depth and quality at this point.

Eric Lauer, Brett Anderson, and Josh Lindblom probably won’t be worse than last year’s rotation, but it’s hard to see the team making it through a 162-game schedule with the current options on the 40-man roster. The Brewers probably can’t find quality for their rotation, but they can add depth.

Brewers GM David Stearns has to go bargain hunting, and that means looking at free agents who struggled, were hurt, or both. Former Baltimore Orioles starter is one of the arms that could interest Stearns on a minor league deal.

What are the chances that Chris Tillman ends up in Milwaukee?

How did 2019 go for Tillman?

It didn’t.

Tillman missed all of 2019 after struggling through 2018 and then getting shut down due to shoulder issues. He underwent a procedure last June to repair his right labrum. He’s been on the mend ever since.

In 2018, Tillman posted an ERA just north of 10.00 in seven starts for the Orioles. He was also rough in 2017 when he posted a 7.46 ERA in 93 innings. The last time Tillman was a useful pitcher was 2016 when he managed a 3.77 ERA in 30 starts and compiled a 16-6 record.

What’s next for Tillman?

He’s going to throw for major league teams in the early Spring to demonstrate how his recovery has gone. He’s only 32 years old, so at least one team will offer a minor league deal with a trip to extended Spring Training worked into the language.

Should the Brewers have any interest?

Why not? If all it costs is a minor league deal, then Tillman makes sense as a lottery ticket. It really depends on how he looks when he throws for scouts in the Spring. If his fastball is humming in the 91 MPH-to-93 MPH range like it was before he had shoulder issues, a contract should be offered. If he’s still in the mid-80’s, he may be better off working his way back through the independent leagues.

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Tillman has a solid pedigree at the major league level, and the Brewers need to find at least one or two ‘lottery ticket’ starters in need of a second chance. As long as the team doesn’t commit to a guaranteed deal, Tillman fits as a possibility.

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