3 surging Tigers bullpen arms Yankees should try to steal at deadline
If you haven’t watched the 2022 Detroit Tigers much this season (show of hands … all of you, got it), the whole thing’s been kind of a mess after the Yankees prevented Miguel Cabrera from getting his 3,000th hit.
Supposedly powered by offseason additions like Javier Báez, Tucker Barnhart and Eduardo Rodriguez, as well as tippy-top prospects Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene, the Tigers of now have looked a lot like the Tigers of old. Rodriguez has left the team to deal with personal issues, Báez has been his erratic self, Torkelson has been historically bad for a top pick, and though Greene has lived up to the billing, he only recently arrived, breaking his foot in spring training. And cheating AJ Hinch has gotten a front-row seat to the catastrophe. What a shame!
But one thing has gone right: the bullpen. From pure rentals to discoveries with multiple years of control ahead of them, the Tigers are flush with the most unpredictable jewels of all, overloaded with relievers. Yankees on line one?
On the one hand, the Tigers intended to contend this year (even though they’re not), and would have to be really convinced to sell bullpen assets who have an extended amount of team control. A 2022-23 free agent isn’t worth keeping tied down, but someone under contract through 2027 really could be around for the next elite Tigers team.
On the other hand … come on. Come onnnnnnn. Let’s have some fun! Trade people! Turn more players into fungible bullpen assets after they leave! Come onnnnnnnnnnnn!
While tempted to put veteran hurler Wily Peralta on this list, especially considering he’s a free agent at the end of 2022, his numbers positively scream that a regression is incoming (1.410 WHIP, 2.16 ERA/3.71 FIP) once he gets off the IL. Even though he’d likely be available for a song, why would the Yankees rush to clear a roster spot for someone whose best days are likely behind him?
Goodbye to Gregory Soto, too. As the Tigers’ All-Star representative for the second consecutive season, his reputation will lead to inflation on the trade market — and he’s fine, but not fantastic.
There’s no guarantee that two of these three names will be available, but that’s no reason for the Yankees not to place the call and get the ball rolling. After all, Clay Holmes was somehow an option last summer, despite being under control through 2024.
3 Detroit Tigers bullpen arms Yankees should call about at 2022 MLB Trade Deadline
3. Michael Fulmer
If you’re keeping score at home, Michael Fulmer is … AVAILABLE. He was available when the 2021 season ended. He was available when camp broke. Even if the Tigers intended to attempt an on-the-fly build-n-sell, he probably should’ve been available, too.
Considering how impressive Fulmer’s been in a relief role dating back to 2021’s Opening Day, it’s somewhat shocking the stuck-in-the-mud Tigers of yesteryear never pulled off a deal sending the righty to a contender. Clearly, they envisioned bigger and better things this season. Either way, now’s the time to deal, as no shine has come off Fulmer’s right arm.
The trade package … might be smaller this year, though. After all, a year and two months of control far exceeds 2022’s second half in length. Fulmer, still just 29, strikes out a batter per inning (33 in 33.1, as of this writing), and while his ERA and FIP clash a bit (1.89 vs. 3.23), his WHIP indicates he’s limiting base runners as best he can (1.020).
His Statcast metrics are also off the charts; he’s in the 97th percentile of xBA, 94th of xWOBA, and 97th of xSLG. His hard-hit rate (60th percentile) could stand to be improved, but there’s basically nobody in baseball with more impressive expected slugging numbers. All indications are he controls all he can control, and could even earn better results down the stretch.
Even with a bidding war in place, there’s no reason Fulmer should cost more than two significant prospects. The Yankees should engage immediately, and while they’re on the phone, they should also try to get even crazier…