Reports out of the pipeline indicate that the Atlanta Braves were most interested in Michael Fulmer before the trade deadline. That piece of news is interesting considering the high level talent the Braves have in their minor league system and their desire to put a competitive team on their new field sooner rather than later.
Now, Michael Fulmer is a front line starter. No, he doesn't have incredible strikeout numbers and he isn't the flashiest, but he has two years of proven success in the American League and followed up his Rookie of the Year season with an All Star nod. I'd consider that a pretty successful sophomore slump.
The injury to his elbow is concerning, however if he comes back healthy and there is no need for surgery his value should hold firm or increase into the offseason, depending on his results down the stretch. More importantly, the stuff and the track record are there to put his value in the upper echelon of assets in the major leagues. If Atlanta really wants a proven front line starter that can grow and develop further with their plethora of young arms, there is no better candidate than Michael Fulmer.
With that said, it will cost Atlanta quite the haul. Nothing their farm system couldn't handle of course. With eight prospects ranked in the top 100 in all of baseball, including six prospects in the top 50, they shouldn't be too stingy. But if I'm the Tigers, there's no deal without Ronald Acuna at least, while I'd also be asking for Ozzie Albies along with him. I think this is possible because Atlanta has a controlled Ender Inciarte locked down in center field, along with another infield prospect ranked 44th in baseball in Kevin Maiten. Not to mention they still have Dansby Swanson.
Although pitching is the deepest part of their minor league stable, it is also the Tigers' deepest area. But if Atlanta truly thinks Fulmer can pair with Julio Teheran to form an intimidating front two to go along with their talented young arms, they may want to stick to the cardinal rule: pitching wins games. Now that isn't always true, considering this is baseball and nothing is absolute. However, for the most part, that philosophy holds true.
I think for the Tigers, if you can get a package of Acuna, Albies and someone like Kyle Muller or another 10-20 ranked prospect, you jump on it and retool. The Tigers still have Matt Manning, Alex Faedo, Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd, Beau Burrows, Kyle Funkhouser and could go pitching in this year's draft if the value is right. Not to mention money to spend in the future.
It would hurt to lose Fulmer and I agree that he is the kind of young pitcher you build around. But if Atlanta is truly set on pairing him with Teheran next year to try and take the route of the Mets to the World Series, the Tigers should definitely consider it strongly. Acuna looks like a stud and could be the center field star the Tigers and their fans have dreamed about in Comerica Park. Albies and Machado, Candelario and whoever the Tigers decide is best at first base (Cabrera, Castellanos, someone else) will form quite the nice, athletic, young, controllable infield. Not to mention you could have Mahtook in right field, covering a lot of ground with Acuna and Christin Stewart in left field as the only real defensive liability.
This makes the team young, talented, faster and cheaper. All of the things the Tigers have said they want. Moreover, it doesn't look like we'd have to wait forever to see the big picture. Manning and Faedo should be up by 2020, with Norris and Boyd being close to veterans at that point. Looking at one of Burrows (who I think could be a great bullpen piece), Funkhouser, or a free agent addition to stabilize the young guns would make 2020 look very good. Not to mention the way Shane Greene has looked, two more years of Joe Jimenez development and a dream that Bruce Rondon gets his sh** together, the tigers could even have a young, controllable and talented bullpen as well.
It pains me too, Tigers fans, but the reality is there are too many position holes to fill and Michael Fulmer could truly bring in a haul. I propose Fulmer and JaCoby Jones for Alcuna, Albies and Muller. Who walks first, who doesn't like it, too much, too little? Let's hear those opinions.