Detroit Tigers: 4 Michael Fulmer trade destinations

Detroit Tigers pitcher Michael Fulmer walks off the field.
Detroit Tigers pitcher Michael Fulmer walks off the field. /
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Michael Fulmer’s transformation from one of baseball’s worst starters in 2020 to a fire-breathing reliever with a triple-digit fastball in 2021 has been remarkable.

Now let’s trade him.

We understand if Detroit Tigers fans are tired of selling off players and want to settle on a foundation for the rebuild. Michael Fulmer has quickly become Detroit’s most reliable bullpen arm, and we’d have no issue if the Tigers think he’s worthy of a reasonable contact extension.

But it’s clear the Detroit Tigers still don’t have the core of their next contender in place. It might be nice to not worry about the closer for a few years, but that feels like an unnecessary luxury on a 65-win team.

The Tigers have interesting trade chips in Matthew Boyd, Robbie Grossman, and José Ureña, but teams just don’t pay much at the trade deadline for solid-average outfielders or back-of-the-rotation starters.

If the Detroit Tigers want to add real value they have to move Spencer Turnbull or Michael Fulmer. Turnbull is actually six months older than Fulmer, but as a starting pitcher with 3+ years of control remaining, we think it’s a bad idea to trade him now.

That leaves Michael Fulmer.

Contenders always look for bullpen help at the trade deadline, and Al Avila’s best trade returns have come when he has multiple suitors eyeing his relievers. It seems like a perfect time to move Michael Fulmer. But what can the Tigers expect to get for him?

Michael Fulmer’s Trade Value

Michael Fulmer is making $3.1 million this season. Ordinarily we would use his projected WAR and salary to find his surplus value, but that all goes out the window when it comes to relievers. The best way to find Michael Fulmer’s value is to look at his stuff, his results, and recent trades for similar players.

Fulmer has a starter’s arsenal with a closer’s arm, and that makes him uniquely valuable. He could come into the middle of a game to get nine outs, or he could work as a setup man or closer and unleash his upper-90s heat, hard slider, and a swing-and-miss changeup.

As a reliever, Michael Fulmer owns a 3.50 FIP with a strikeout rate near 30% and a walk rate under 5%. He may need to produce for a bit longer to convince teams this is real, but that’s roughly the same level of performance we saw from Justin Wilson in 2017 and Shane Greene in 2019.

Fulmer, like Wilson and Greene before him, has another year left on his contract. That makes him an ideal trade target for any team planning to compete for the next few seasons, and it gives us a good idea what kind of return the Tigers can expect.

When the Tigers traded Justin Wilson (and Alex Avila) to the Cubs they received Jeimer Candelario (a 50FV prospect in FanGraphs parlance) and Isaac Paredes (45FV). Shane Greene brought back Joey Wentz (45FV) and Travis Demeritte (35FV).

Now that we know who might be targeting Fulmer, and what it could cost to land him, let’s make some fake trades! Hit the jump to see our proposals.