As Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle points out, the back of the Athletics’ starting rotation has been a problem in the first month-plus of the season. The top three in the rotation — Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, and Jesse Chavez — are a combined 16-2, Slusser writes, while everyone else (Dan Straily, Tommy Milone, Josh Lindblom) is 2-9.
Slusser adds that the A’s may deal from depth to address the rotation, citing catcher John Jaso as an example of someone who could be moved. Jaso has been platooning with Derek Norris behind the plate and both have gotten off to good starts. Jaso has a .758 OPS, but Norris currently owns an impressive 1.006 OPS himself.
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.