Former Orioles left-hander Wade Miley found a new home Wednesday night, reportedly agreeing to a minor league deal with the Milwaukee Brewers that would net him $2.5 million if he makes the major league club and includes incentives that could bring his salary to $5.7 million, according to USA Today.
Miley’s deal is newsworthy not only in that he’s the first of the Orioles’ four free-agent pitchers from 2017 to sign with a team, but also because it begins to set the market for free-agent starting pitcher rebound candidates.
For Miley to reach his incentives, he would have to make 29 major league starts, according to USA Today, and if he accomplishes that, it would be a major step toward potentially receiving a better payday by testing free agency again a year from now.
With several free-agent starters still unsigned, and with Yu Darvish’s standard-setting six-year, $126 million deal with the Chicago Cubs completed this week, you’d expect the other top free-agent starters — a group that includes Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn — to begin to find homes.
Instead, Darvish’s deal has been followed by a few minor league deals, most recently Miley’s agreement and the Chicago White Sox’s minor league contract with left-hander Hector Santiago, which was announced Wednesday.
Would the parameters of Miley's deal be similar to those under which the Orioles could re-sign Chris Tillman? Because if the Orioles are convinced Tillman’s 2017 season is an outlier and that he’s healthy, it would seem to be a no-brainer for the club, especially considering it needs to fill three rotation spots.
The Orioles approached Miley and Tillman early in the offseason to gauge their interest in returning, and low-base salary, high-incentive deals were discussed. Miley told the team he’d rather pursue an opportunity to return to the National League, but Tillman always seemed to be open to a return for that sort of contract.
Still, Tillman remains unsigned. He was working out at the Ed Smith Stadium complex through the offseason up to just before pitchers and catchers reported Tuesday, and there’s realistic expectation that the Orioles will eventually get a deal done with him. Now that the standard has been set by Miley’s deal, maybe that will happen sooner rather than later.