The Orioles and right-hander Chris Tillman have begun negotiations on a long-term contract extension, according to a report from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The sides have not yet progressed to the point of exchanging salary figures.
Tillman joins a long list of notable players who are known to be discussing contract extensions this winter, including Indians' righty Corey Kluber and Tigers' ace David Price. Young stars such as Brian Dozier (Twins), Adam Eaton (White Sox) and Christian Yelich (Marlins) have already reached agreement on long-term deals with their respective teams, and more agreements are expected before teams shut down negotiations as the regular season begins.
Tillman, 26, is not slated to become a free-agent until after the 2017 season, and will earn $4.315 million with Baltimore this season. He has established himself as a consistent force in the Orioles' rotation, posting a sub-3.75 ERA in each of the last three seasons while logging over 200 innings in each of the last two years. For his career, Tillman is the owner of a lifetime 45-31 record and 4.00 ERA in 118 starts since breaking into the majors in 2009.
Despite signing shortstop J.J. Hardy to an extension during the playoffs, the O's have had trouble locking up key players as of late, with outfielders Nelson Cruz (Mariners) and Nick Markakis (Braves) signing elsewhere this offseason. Signing Tillman as a long-term piece for the rotation may help the team re-assure its fanbase that long-term commitments to its key players are a priority.