News flash: a mediocre team with an often-anonymous lineup comprised of fill-ins for injured stars is not a box office draw:
Through 41 home games this season, the Yankees have drawn nearly 106,000 fewer fans than at this point a year ago, a 6.1 percent drop that is almost twice as large as the overall decline in baseball … Even more sobering for the team: the television ratings for their games have plummeted.
Everyone talks about the New York market giving the Yankees a license to print money. And yes, there are built-in advantages for the Yankees. But it’s not some blank check we’re talking about here. The Yankees draw and rate and rake in cash in large part because they have been an outstanding baseball team for 20 years or so and, with a couple of blips in mid-60s to mid-70s and again in the late 80s to early 90s have been an outstanding baseball team for close to a century.
This year: less so. Declines in TV ratings and attendance should shock no one.
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.