The Detroit Tigers are open for business, and the New York Yankees have come calling.
On the Yankees’ radar is Detroit right-hander Michael Fulmer, who has propelled to stardom after his first two seasons in the major leagues.
Fulmer, 24, captured the 2016 Rookie of the Year honors after compiling an 11-7 record, 3.06 ERA and 4.9 WAR. Right elbow ulnar neuritis ended his 2017 campaign in August en route to a 10-12, 3.83 ERA finish. He underwent successful surgery in September but should be ready for Spring Training.
Despite coming off elbow surgery, Fulmer’s ceiling is to the advantage of Tigers’ general manager Al Avila and company. The Yankees, even after the acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, have interest in Fulmer and the prospects to pull off the trade.
New York owns one of the best farm systems in the game on top of a young big league core that was just one win away from the World Series this year. Not to mention the win-now mentality in the Bronx now, and the fact that GM Brian Cashman would gladly welcome a controllable, already proven guy to slate into the top of the rotation.
There are two sides to this argument if you are the Tigers.
Already in full rebuild mode, why stop now? An April roster made up of Justin Verlander, J.D. Martinez, Justin Upton, Justin Wilson, Alex Avila and Ian Kinsler now sees them scattered across the league with different clubs. Fulmer could be the next domino to fall.
He also has yet to reach the peak of his career and would net a heck of a return package. Detroit is, at best, three years away from competing again, so what is the point of hanging on to him during a stretch of losing seasons and top ten draft picks?
If the Yankees are willing to give up top prospects, too, then pull the trigger, Al. You already know the next few years are going to be ugly. With an opportunity to acquire big name prospects and beef up a typically thin system, it almost seems foolish not to.
If the point of a rebuild is to develop young talent and that talent is already in the picture, why ship it away? Fulmer is Justin Verlander 2.0 and an arm you would typically opt to build around. And who knows, with Fulmer as the ace, who is to say this rebuild will take as long as expected? The Yankees are one to know about speedy and competitive rebuilds.
He also has five years of control on his contract and brings an almost laughable amount of production for his price.
So there you go, Al. You either put names like Torres, Andujar, Sheffield and Florial — all four not far from the bigs — in a Tigers uniform, or you hang on to your All-Star pitcher during the reconstruction of your organization.