The Detroit Tigers should demand full value, if not more, for Michael Fulmer. If he’s dealt this winter, the New York Yankees are an ideal fit.
Detroit Tigers ace Michael Fulmer would make for one of the most interesting trade cases of the offseason.
Whether the hurler is actually dealt remains to be seen.
The Detroit Free Press’ Anthony Fenech tweeted the following on Monday regarding Fulmer:
The Tigers have received “mild inquiries” about right-hander Michael Fulmer but are not proactively trying to trade him, GM Al Avila said.
— anthony fenech (@anthonyfenech) December 11, 2017
Detroit obviously doesn’t have to move the All-Star and former Rookie of the Year.
The 24-year-old has five years of team control left, per Spotrac, and has accumulated a 6.6 fWAR in his first two seasons.
Those are compelling reasons to keep hold of the former first-round pick, given that he could be a part of the next great Tigers team.
However, the team control and standout performances are equally compelling reasons to move the right-hander.
Either way, Fulmer’s name will be a fascinating one to watch this winter.
One team with reported, per a tweet from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, interest in the pitcher is the New York Yankees.
Nightengale tweeted the following on Tuesday morning:
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 12, 2017
Yes, the same Yankees who were a win away from the World Series. Yes, the same Yankees who just acquired Giancarlo Stanton.
Adding Fulmer to New York’s stacked roster would undoubtedly make the Bronx Bombers World Series front runners—sorry Astros and Dodgers.
The Yankees are also one of the few teams who have the prospect and young player capital to make at least a reasonable offer for Fulmer.
#Yankees interest in #Tigers Fulmer is high. So is the price in prospects. Chance Adams, Justus Sheffield certainly in the mix. Clint Frazier, Tyler Wade, Albert Abreu, Thairo Estrada all possible. Gleyber Torres and Estevan Florial close to untouchable. https://t.co/ojohRw99Dv
— Sweeny Murti (@YankeesWFAN) December 12, 2017
While Murti notes that Torres and Florial are “close to untouchable”, one of them should be the starting point in working out a deal between the Tigers and Yankees.
Of course, this is all speculative and it remains to be seen if the Tigers will in fact move Fulmer, but a player like Torres would provide an excellent starting point.
Torres, an infielder, had Tommy John surgery last season.
However, he could very well play a role in the Majors in 2018. He’s widely regarded as one of the best prospects in baseball, often mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Victor Robles and Eloy Jimenez.
With the Tigers, he’d give the team a long-term solution at shortstop next to Jeimer Candelario at third base.
This would move Dixon Machado off shortstop, but Torres’ high upside would give Detroit a potential impact position player to build around.
In addition to Torres, the Tigers should demand more high-prospects.
Perhaps not Florial, but the Yankees do have a deep system from which to deal from.
Outfielder Clint Frazier, a former high-end prospect his own right, is only 23 and recently turned in a .825 OPS in 320 plate appearances for New York’s Triple-A squad.
The former Cleveland farmhand also appeared in 39 games (142 plate appearances) for the big league team in 2017, notching a .216 ISO and a .715 OPS.
In the event of a trade, Frazier would immediately slot in as a starter in Detroit.
A Torres/Frazier pairing could help the Tigers immediately reap the benefits of a Fulmer trade to the Yankees, but the team shouldn’t stop there.
Detroit should be demanding full value for Fulmer, just as the White Sox did in last summer’s Chris Sale deal.
Sale and Fulmer are obviously significantly different pitchers, but they should hold similar trade value.
Yes, Sale misses more bats, but he was three years older than Fulmer at the time of the trade last year.
Meanwhile, per Spotrac, Fulmer will spend another season under team control before he’s eligible for arbitration. He’ll then have four years of controllability left via arbitration.
In 2016, MLB.com’s MLB Pipeline ranked Moncada as the best overall prospect, with Kopech checking in at 30th.
Both Diaz and Basabe have upside as well, with the latter checking at 17th on MLB.com’s MLB Pipeline list of the top White Sox prospects in 2017.
The Yankees’ Other Prospects
Another New York farmhand who could a fit is right-hander Chance Adams.
A 23-year-old pitcher, the right-hander has a promising four-pitch mix and recently turned in a 2.89 ERA, a 1.08 WHIP and 103 strikeouts in 115.1 innings for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
If included in any hypothetical deal, he could slot in as Fulmer’s direct replacement in the rotation.
Once again, this is all purely speculative, but one of the reasons the Yankees are ideal trade partners for the Tigers is not just because of the prospects available in a Fulmer, but because of the potential of adding Ian Kinsler to the hypothetical trade.
Castro posted a 110 wRC+ and a .338 wOBA last season, finishing with a 1.9 fWAR.
Kinsler, even in a down year at the plate, registered a 2.4 fWAR last season thanks to some strong defense.
In that regard, the veteran would be a significant upgrade over Castro for the Yankees, after logging fWARs of 5.2, 4.1 and 5.7 in a Tigers uniform from 2014 to 2016.
Adding Kinsler to the deal would hypothetically help the Tigers slightly up the overall value received from New York in the form of a better prospect, or an extra prospect all together.
It may also be prudent to package Kinsler with Fulmer in a deal if the ace is dealt considering the lack of teams with second base needs.
The Yankees may be the best fit for Kinsler in that regard.
Moving the second baseman would also help Detroit save money, which will be key for the organization moving forward.
Money Potentially Saved
According to Spotrac, Kinsler will make $11 million in 2018 before hitting the free agent market.
Moving his contract will immediately help the Tigers shed payroll, as will trading Fulmer in this hypothetical scenario.
The right-hander still has one year left before arbitration, and likely won’t be cheap given his career to date.
Of course, if Detroit is intent on keeping Fulmer, paying for his arbitration years won’t be a problem given his talent.
Still, trading him now would save cash down the line.
It obviously remains to be seen what will happen this offseason.
However, the fact remains that the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers are ideal trade partners where both Michael Fulmer and Ian Kinsler are concerned.
That being said, Detroit should obviously demand full value—if not more—for a pitcher like Fulmer, but the fit is there nonetheless.