Mariners shortstop Brad Miller had a monster spring training, batting .410 with 14 extra-base hits and a 1.314 OPS in 70 plate appearances to easily hold off Nick Franklin for the starting job. And he kept rolling last night, homering twice in an 8-3 win over the Angels.
Combined with his half-season debut last year Miller now has 10 homers in 78 career regular season games. He also went deep 16 times in 108 total games between Double-A and Triple-A while in the minors.
That’s not extraordinary power or anything, but it certainly suggests Miller is capable of hitting 20-plus homers over the course of a full season and … well, not a lot of 24-year-old shortstops do that. In fact, here’s the complete list of 24-year-old shortstops with 20 or more homers in the last 20 years: Alex Rodriguez, Nomar Garciaparra, Hanley Ramirez, Troy Tulowitzki, J.J. Hardy, Bobby Crosby.
Miller was never a particularly highly touted prospect coming up through the Mariners’ farm system, but he hit .334 with a .925 OPS in the minors and looks ready to form a helluva double-play combo with Robinson Cano.
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.