Let’s check in on a pair of teams from the game’s Central divisions…
- The Tigers and left-hander Matthew Boyd avoided arbitration with a one-year, $5.3MM agreement earlier this month. There was then speculation that the two sides would work out a long-term pact (at least one that would buy out Boyd’s three arb-eligible seasons), but the soon-to-be 29-year-old told Jason Beck of MLB.com and other reporters Thursday that no talks have occurred. “No, but that would be cool,” said Boyd, who went to add that his goal is “to win a championship here.” Boyd may be the Tigers’ most valuable trade chip, and he has been the subject of rumors for several months now, but the club wasn’t aggressively shopping him as of December’s Winter Meetings.
- More on the Tigers’ rotation from Beck, who passes along an update on righty Michael Fulmer’s status as he continues to recover from the Tommy John surgery he underwent last March. The former AL Rookie of the Year is progressing well, as Beck writes that Fulmer’s “pain-free” and scheduled to begin throwing from 120 feet off flat ground next week. However, manager Ron Gardenhire noted Fulmer’s not slated to return to a major league mound until “deep into the summer.” The Tigers set a 15- to 16-month recovery timetable for Fulmer when he went under the knife, so he should be back sometime in June or July if all goes according to plan.
- There was at least some chance of a reunion between the Pirates and one of their ex-players, Pittsburgh native Neil Walker, before he signed a minor league deal with the in-state rival Phillies on Wednesday. Walker and Pirates GM Ben Cherington engaged in “some cursory conversations,” Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette relays, but they didn’t make meaningful progress in those discussions. “We did talk a little bit, but it was pretty vague,” Walker said. “It sounded like Ben had a lot on his plate from the time he took over, and he just wasn’t able to commit a spot.” Walker had a productive run with the Pirates, Mets and Brewers from 2009-17, but his numbers dipped with the Yankees and Marlins during the previous two seasons. The 35-year-old doesn’t expect this to be his last season, though, and he left the door open for a possible return to the Bucs in 2021.