What moving Michael Fulmer to the 60-day IL means for 2020
By Jay Markle
The Detroit Tigers moved their big right-hander to the 60-day injured list, freeing his 40-man roster spot for Cameron Maybin.
Last week, the Tigers signed Cameron Maybin to a one-year deal, meaning he needed a spot on the already full 40-man roster. To make room for their new outfielder, right handed pitcher Michael Fulmer was transferred to the 60-day injured list.
This move is not indicative of anything in particular regarding Fulmer’s recovery from the Tommy John surgery he underwent in March of 2019. He was shelved all those months ago with the understanding that he’d be out of commission until the summer of 2020. To leave him on the 26-man roster or place him on the the 10-day IL would be, in essence, wasting a spot that could be used to add a new player.
The Tigers have seemed much more ready to utilize spots on the 40-man roster to grab players they’re interested in from other teams and try to sneak them through waivers later in the offseason than in years past. It yielded spotty results – taking and subsequently losing Marcos Diplan to the Orioles but successfully stashing Dario Agrazal.
With spring training underway, tough roster choices are going to be made all around the league, and usable players are likely to be pushed off the back end of a few rosters. The Tigers may not be positioned to take advantage; 40-man the roster is full, after all. On the other hand, they may decide to try again to stealthily push a player they like through waivers to add another to the organization.
Keep in mind, though, that they didn’t jump at the chance when a fantastic opportunity came along in Kyle Garlick. Designated for assignment when the Dodgers acquired Mookie Betts, Garlick fits the paradigm of what a rebuilding team should be targeting on the waiver wire. Of course, the Tigers simply may not think Garlick was an MLB player. But from the peanut gallery, he seemed like a better option than, say, Troy Stokes Jr, who holds a 40-man roster spot.
The most likely impact of the move is that the team will get an extended look at the current group of players currently rostered. There are a number of players on the roster who either didn’t perform well in 2019 or have questionable ability to continue performing in 2020. Not everyone will bust, but there’s also a slim chance that everyone works out either. The Tigers are taked with determining which guys fall into each category.
Of course, there’s always the chance that a non-roster invitee breaks camp and heads north with the Tigers. That would radically shift the timetable on those of choices, and the front office will have to remove someone immediately, assuming another major injury doesn’t push another player to the 60-day IL. A notable possibility is right-hander Zack Godley, who has the ability to opt out of his contract with Detroit if he isn’t on the roster by March 23rd.
Long story short, when Fulmer is healthy again, he’ll need to be reinstated to the 40-man. As a result, someone will have to depart. That leaves a number of guys in the unenviable position of playing for their lives.