Jake Fox led spring training in homers and his monster exhibition production made lots of headlines last month, but Orioles manager Buck Showalter instead smartly focused on his defensive deficiencies and extensive track record containing thousands of plate appearances.
All of which is why Fox has played in just two of the Orioles’ first nine games while going 0-for-7 to bring his career batting average down to .232 in 168 games.
Fox’s power hasn’t been limited to spring training, as he’s smacked 18 homers in 435 at-bats during the regular season, but a .232 batting average combined with a ghastly 98/23 K/BB ratio and .281 on-base percentage from a 28-year-old without an obvious home defensively don’t add up to much more than a reserve role.
Fox’s lone start of the season came at catcher Saturday night and Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun reports that he and batterymate Jake Arrieta “weren’t totally in sync” and had “a long conversation” in the dugout with Showalter, who hinted afterward that he wasn’t happy with the game-calling.
Free agent right-hander Chris Tillman is narrowing his pool of potential suitors, per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Returning to the Orioles is one option, of course, but Heyman also mentions another two undisclosed teams who are still in the running. An earlier report from Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun suggests that as many as four teams may be in the mix; either way, a final decision is expected by Monday.
Tillman, 29, has spent the entirety of his major league career in Baltimore. After posting career-high numbers in 2016, his progress was derailed during an injury-plagued 2017 campaign, during which he missed nearly six weeks on the disabled list with recurring right shoulder inflammation. He finished the season with a bloated 7.84 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 4.9 SO/9 over 93 innings.
While the mystery teams have yet to reveal themselves, the Blue Jays, Twins and Tigers have all expressed interest in the veteran right-hander this offseason. Both the Blue Jays and Twins have made big moves to bolster their rotations over the last few days, with the additions of Jaime Garcia and Jake Odorizzi, respectively. That doesn’t mean that Tillman is out of reach, however — if his price is right, he could provide some much-needed depth for pitching staffs that finished 15th and 22nd in the league last year.