The Detroit Tigers are willing to listen on Michael Fulmer in trade talks, is that the right move by the organization?
Last week some of my buddies at ESPN 961 in Grand Rapids were discussing who on the Detroit Tigers they and the listeners viewed as untouchables. The consensus from the listeners was that in no way, shape, or form should the Tigers ever consider trading Jeimer Candelario, Joe Jimenez, and Michael Fulmer. Everyone else, in their eyes, was fair game.
And now Jon Paul Morosi has tweeted today that sources inside the Tigers organization have confirmed that although they’re not actively shopping the previously mentioned Fulmer, they are certainly willing to listen. The Tigers fans of Reddit have just about melted down.
Here’s the thing, though: It would be absolutely insane for the Tigers not to, at the very least, make a few inquiry calls while dangling Fulmer. Detroit is in the rare position of being able to shoot for the moon and not immediately be laughed off the phone.
First, let’s take a look at what makes Fulmer so valuable.
Fulmer has gotten back to using his slider in a dominant fashion, currently using it 23% of the time, but has used his fastball less to accentuate his breaking pitches. If you’ve seen him pitch this season you’ve seen his slider destroy batters, breaking sharply and leaving almost no chance to barrel it up. In fact, his swinging strike rate is currently at 10.6%, which is a career-high for him. This is all with no drop in fastball velocity, hammering the strike zone at a career-high pace, and now he’s using his curve far more frequently to generate pop-ups and other weak contact.
He’s using four pitches effectively and batters can’t keep up!
All this improvement and the man has only recently turned 25. Did you know he’s also under team control until 2022? This is a pretty damn good package.
A potential return for Fulmer
Now, let’s consider the potential return a player in Fulmer’s position could land.
All things considered, the Tigers’ brass is in a strange position on how to shop Fulmer without using rose-colored glasses; he’s doing great, it’s true, and his rookie year was a tantalizing taste of what could be. However, he’s never approached 8 K/9 as a pro, and his FIP generally settles in the 3.7 territory. Yes, he’s young, but how much higher is his ceiling? It’s tough for the executives to suss out, let alone the fans.
That being said, he’s still a proven commodity with plenty of team control, so there’s intrinsic value that allows for the Tigers to ask for a top prospect in return.
I feel that a team like Toronto, whose farm system is overrun with quality players, would be a good place to start. Vlad Jr? No, probably not, but what about Bo Bichette? And Anthony Alford? I imagine they’d like to try to give Josh Donaldson a reason to stay, and a Fulmer may fit the bill.
Maybe ask the Phillies if they’re interested – They think they can compete right now, and if you package impending free agent Jose Iglesias with Fulmer one could ask for JP Crawford, Sixto Sanchez, and another player.
The point is that Fulmer is a player that teams would shove their grandmas into a shark pit for. Looking at the past we see young pitcher trades that helped guide the future of franchises, like Josh Beckett (netting Hanley Ramirez & Anibal Sanchez), Dan Haren (Carlos Gonzalez, Brett Anderson, Chris Carter) or Bartolo Colon (Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips, Grady Sizemore).
Hopefully Al Avila will roll the dice and further improve the Tigers’ future…and maybe grab a little bit for the present, too.