Yankees: The one starting pitcher they should avoid in trade talks
The Yankees are clearly going to be in the market for a starting pitcher to boost their rotation as the trade deadline approaches. Tiger’s pitcher Michael Fulmer might be available for the right price, but there’s no way Brian Cashman should consider giving into Detroit’s demands to get a deal done.
In 2016, Fulmer burst onto the scene winning AL Rookie of the Year, edging out Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez after his incredible two-month debut in which he only played 53 games. Coming into his sophomore season Fulmer was looked at one of the top young starters in the game, but his 2017 campaign wasn’t nearly as strong in comparison to his rookie season.
Despite regressing slightly, Fulmer was still one of the biggest names involved in trade rumors this past offseason. With the Tigers entering a full rebuild and Fulmer’s trade value as high as it might have ever been it made sense for Detroit to consider moving him to get a giant haul back in return.
One of the teams linked to him was the Yankees. All winter long they were in the market to acquire some more starting pitching and had the ability to trade for just about anyone because of their stacked farm system. However, a deal never came to fruition due in large part because of the Tiger’s asking price.
It was reported that the Yanks were willing to part with Clint Frazier, Chance Adams and either Tyler Wade or Thairo Estrada to get Fulmer but the Tigers wouldn’t even consider the package. At the time it seemed like a fair offer from the Yanks and today it looks even better, given how much Fulmer has struggled so far this season.
Through 11 starts Fulmer has been anything but one of the top young aces in the game today. He’s 2-4 with a 4.60 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP. He’s only striking out 7.7 batters per 9 innings and the opponent average against him is .257.
Even with these lackluster numbers, the Tigers are sure to get calls about Fulmer as the deadline nears and you can still expect them to ask for a big return. Because Fulmer is so young and his contract is extremely team-friendly it makes sense that they would ask for a lot in return. Some teams might budge especially if Fulmer can snap out of his early-season funk, but by no means should that team be the Yankees.
Why the Yanks should avoid trading for Fulmer
First of all, there’s no way they should consider offering Clint Frazier again in any deal for Fulmer. With how he has performed at Triple-A (.341 and 5 HRs) he is probably their best trade piece right now and is playing himself into becoming untouchable much like Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar.
I would argue Frazier for Fulmer itself might be too much and given the lack of elite starting pitching on this year’s trade market I’m not sure there’s anyone worth giving up Frazier for. He’s an injury away to the current Yankees outfield from joining the roster and even if that doesn’t happen this season he could be the starting left fielder in 2019 if Brett Gardner doesn’t return.
Chance Adams will likely be involved in potential trade talks in the coming weeks, but he himself has really regressed this season at Triple-A. Tyler Wade is a nice piece but he’s not someone who could be the centerpiece in a deal for Fulmer. Just the two of them wouldn’t be enough for Fulmer as the Tigers would certainly ask for more.
WIth Frazier off the table, they could ask for Estevan Florial or Justus Sheffield instead but there’s no way the Yanks would do that for a guy with an ERA on the wrong side of 4.50. The Yankees are looking for another front-line starting pitcher, a number two in their rotation to back Luis Severino. Fulmer is not that guy. Yes, he’s young and has room to improve but even at his peak, I don’t think he’d be anything more than a quality third starter in the current Yankee rotation.
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He’s not a power guy who can just dominate lineups with plus stuff. He’s got a good arm but pitches to contact and you wouldn’t call him a difference maker who can shut down a lineup like the Red Sox or Astros come playoff time.
It’s not that anyone else on the trade market would be a sure thing to help the Yankees in the playoffs, but guys like Cole Hamels or Chris Archer could be better fits. Like Fulmer, Archer would also require a similar haul of talent in return but for Hamels, I think the Yankees could get him without having to give up one or two of their top prospects.
As long as they ate the majority of the money remaining on his contract the Yankees can get a deal done. Whether they want to do that or not remains to be seen, but I think Hamels and his postseason pedigree would make him the better option for this season’s club.
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If Fulmer bounces back and shows he’s the guy he was during his excellent rookie campaign than the Yankees could look into acquiring him again this offseason if he’s still with the Tigers. But for now, they should steer clear. They’d have to give too much up and it wouldn’t make sense to mortgage some of their future to get a pitcher who is really nothing more than a middle of the rotation guy at this point in his young career.