The Yankees are among the teams with interest in Tigers righty Michael Fulmer, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). New York also has considered Diamondbacks lefty Patrick Corbin, per the report.
Clearly, the Yanks are interested in finding a rotation upgrade, as the club was also linked yesterday to Pirates righty Gerrit Cole. Currently, the first four members of the staff seem set: Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, Sonny Gray, and Jordan Montgomery. But the fifth slot is much less settled.
While the Bronx powerhouse is still committed to remaining under the luxury tax line for 2018, the club obviously sees some ways to fit high-quality hurlers into the payroll. Of course, GM Brian Cashman is also reportedly looking into moving some existing salary to open yet more space.
Fulmer and Corbin each represent quite different assets. There’s some reason to believe that either could be made available, but for differing reasons.
With regard to Fulmer, he’s one of the most intriguing young starters in baseball. The 24-year-old is on track to qualify for Super Two status next year but won’t be a free agent until 2023. And he has already turned in 323 2/3 innings of 3.45 ERA pitching in his first two MLB seasons. While offseason surgery to deal with a nerve issue in his elbow may give some pause, that particular procedure does not seem to come with significant future concern. Accordingly, the asking price is expected to be astronomical, even if the Tigers will hear out teams with interest.
As for Corbin, the D-Backs are in a tight payroll situation that will present challenges as they seek to return to the postseason. GM Mike Hazen indicates yesterday that a “creative” approach will be required, as MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert notes on Twitter. With Corbin projected by MLBTR to take home a $8.3MM payday via arbitration, he could be a useful trade piece, perhaps bringing back pieces that could fill other needs while also freeing up some spending money. The 28-year-old southpaw turned in a solid 2017 campaign, running up 189 2/3 innings of 4.03 ERA ball with 8.4 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9. While Arizona would surely prefer to retain Corbin, they have four other strong rotation pieces on hand along with a few internal candidates to battle for a spot.