It’s no surprise to see this agreement at that price point. Fulmer matches the $2.8MM that MLBTR and Matt Swartz projected. Not coincidentally, it’s also the same amount he earned in a 2019 season in which he did not play.
Fulmer, 26, sat out the just-completed campaign after undergoing Tommy John surgery in March. He’s rehabbing back from the procedure at present, with hopes he’ll be available to return by the middle of the 2020 campaign. In the most optimistic scenario, perhaps there’s even a chance he could emerge as a mid-season trade chip for the rebuilding Detroit organization.
Since he was a Super Two qualifier last year, Fulmer still has three seasons of control remaining. There’s plenty of time yet for the Tigers to cash in via trade or perhaps ink Fulmer to a long-term deal — if he can return to health and get back on track.
Fulmer, who initially landed in Detroit in the Yoenis Cespedes trade of the summer of 2015, broke out in his debut season the following year. After picking up Rookie of the Year honors, he took a step back but was still quite effective in his sophomore campaign.
Even as the Tigers spurned trade interest, cracks were forming. Fulmer underwent a procedure on his ulnar nerve late in 2017. He was cleared of structural damage but wasn’t the same in 2018. His groundball rate dropped and his home run rate rose; he ultimately threw just 132 1/3 innings of 4.69 ERA ball on the year. Fulmer required meniscus surgery late in the season. Before he could get started in earnest on a turnaround effort, he was diagnosed with the ligament tear that would require Tommy John surgery.