On Monday it was reported that Tigers pitcher Michael Fulmer has drawn discussion at the winter meetings, per Jason Beck of MLB.com. General manager Al Avila said the Tigers aren’t looking to trade the starting pitcher, but “There are teams out there that have interest.”
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported Tuesday morning that the Yankees are looking at trading for a starting pitcher and Fulmer is one pitcher they are considering. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News also noted that the Rangers have “checked in” on Fulmer.
This should, of course, be taken with a large grain of salt, as there would be little incentive for Avila to move Fulmer unless the prospect haul was massive.
Why does this matter?
Fulmer is arguably the Tigers’ only remaining ace following the trade of Justin Verlander. The 25-year-old won the 2016 American League Rookie of the Year award, beating out Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez. An All-Star in 2017, Fulmer regressed a bit from his rookie season but was still one of the most valuable players for Detroit last season.
In two full major league seasons, Fulmer has an ERA of 3.45 and WHIP of 1.14. He’s given up eight hits and 0.8 home runs per nine innings, with a strikeout to walk ratio of three. He has been worth 6.5 WAR (according to Fangraphs) in a Tigers uniform. Fulmer’s 2017 season was injury-shortened, ending in the second week of September in order for him to have ulnar nerve transposition surgery in his right elbow.
Assuming he doesn’t get traded, the right-hander will be crucial to Detroit’s long-term success.