Fulmer, Tigers avoid arbitration with 1-yr. deal

Detroit Tigers

The Tigers face one of their larger arbitration lists in years. They got one of those players out of the way early, agreeing to terms with right-hander Michael Fulmer on a one-year contract. The deal is worth $3.1 million, a source told MLB.com.
The agreement lets Fulmer and the Tigers

The Tigers face one of their larger arbitration lists in years. They got one of those players out of the way early, agreeing to terms with right-hander Michael Fulmer on a one-year contract. The deal is worth $3.1 million, a source told MLB.com.

The agreement lets Fulmer and the Tigers see what the former American League Rookie of the Year can do in his second year back from Tommy John surgery, the season when many pitchers who have the surgery finally feel close to their pre-surgery form. Fulmer was the last Tiger to go to an arbitration hearing two years ago, but he also settled last year for the same salary after spending the 2019 season rehabbing from surgery.

Fulmer made 10 abbreviated starts in a shortened 2020 season. His outings were capped at three innings each, but he finished the third inning in just half of those outings as he tried to get a feel for his pitches. The 27-year-old finished with an 8.78 ERA and a 6.91 FIP, allowing 45 hits over 27 2/3 innings with 12 walks and 20 strikeouts.

Fulmer’s sinker last year averaged 93 mph, according to Statcast, down from 95.7 mph in 2018. His four-seam fastball had a similar drop. His slider, however, showed signs of promise with a career-best 36.7 percent swing-and-miss rate despite less movement than it had before the surgery. The hope, if not expectation, is that those pitches improve in ’21.

The Tigers still have to negotiate with eight more arbitration-eligible players — Matthew Boyd, Jeimer Candelario, Jose Cisnero, Buck Farmer, Niko Goodrum, Joe Jiménez, JaCoby Jones and Daniel Norris — ahead of Friday’s deadline for exchanging salary proposals. Teams and players can negotiate a deal up until a scheduled hearing next month, though many teams have taken a policy of ending negotiations once numbers are exchanged.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck’s Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.

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