11:19am: The Braves have had interest in Fulmer in the past, and he’s still “on their radar,” Mark Bowman of MLB.com tweets. Atlanta discussed Fulmer with Detroit over the winter, per Bowman, and the Tigers also had reported interest in him last summer.
10:23am: With the Tigers gearing up to sell prior to the July 31 non-waiver deadline, most of their efforts are on trying to move pitchers Mike Fiers and Francisco Liriano and center fielder Leonys Martin, per Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. While two of the team’s best players – right-hander Michael Fulmer and right fielder Nicholas Castellanos – have come up in trade rumors, Detroit’s not actively shopping the pair and it would take a lot to acquire either, Crasnick adds. That jibes with reports from last weekend.
Among Fiers, Liriano and Martin, Fiers could be the most valuable trade chip. Not only is the right-hander fairly priced ($6MM salary), but he comes with another year of arbitration eligibility. Of course, the former Brewer and Astro is also enjoying a respectable age-33 season, having pitched to a 3.70 ERA/4.67 FIP with 6.54 K/9 and 1.81 BB/9 in 104 2/3 innings. Notably, Fiers ranks 10th among qualified starters in BB/9 and 19th in infield fly rate (12.7 percent), the latter of which has helped to offset a paltry groundball percentage (38.8). On the other hand, Fiers’ strikeouts are down significantly from the eight-plus per nine he has recorded throughout his career, and the contact he has allowed suggests there has been luck on his side in terms of run prevention.
While the Tigers no doubt hope Fiers garners attention in a weak market for starters, it’s possible Liriano will emerge as a left-handed relief option for someone. After working out of the bullpen with the Astros late in 2017, Liriano has served exclusively as a starter this year. But the results have been poor, as the 34-year-old has posted a 4.67 ERA/5.31 FIP with 7.18 K/9 against a sky-high 5.13 BB/9 over 79 frames. Liriano’s struggles have come almost solely against right-handed hitters, who have teed off on him with a .266/.373/.458 line. If there’s a saving grace for Liriano, it’s that he has held same-handed batters to a comical .088/.200/.193 showing. Any team acquiring Liriano would be taking on a rental, one who’s owed the balance of a $4MM salary.
Martin, like Fiers, comes with another year of arbitration control, which should add to his appeal. He’s also cheap ($1.75MM salary) and has been productive at the plate this season, evidenced by a .257/.327/.431 line with nine home runs and seven stolen bases in 306 trips. On the defensive side, Martin has added to his history of well-regarded work in the field, having earned plus marks from DRS (one), Ultimate Zone Rating (7.1) and Outs Above Average (two). The 30-year-old has endured two stints on the disabled list because of hip troubles, however, and has been on the shelf since July 1 (though he should return tonight). Martin also isn’t far removed from a dreadful 2017 in which he hit .172/.232/.281 in 138 plate appearances between the Mariners and Cubs.