By: Will Burchfield
Michael Fulmer would be lying if he said he doesn’t hear it — the trade chatter, the rumors, the reports that other teams have inquired about him.
Doesn’t mean he’s fazed by it.
“I hear it, it’s on social media. I see it, but it’s just rumors. I’m just gonna pitch for the Tigers and go win every fifth day,” Fulmer said on Friday, the team’s first day back from the All-Star break.
Over the past week, Fulmer’s name has improbably popped up in the rumor mill. The Cubs were reportedly keen on acquiring the 2016 A.L. Rookie of the Year — who wouldn’t be? — but all indications are GM Al Avila has zero interest in trading him.
In fact, Avila hasn’t even addressed the reports with Fulmer. They are seemingly of little consequence.
“I don’t think I’m going anywhere, so I’m not really worried about it. We’re trying to keep the whole team together right now,” Fulmer said.
The 24-year-old All-Star is 9-6 with a 3.19 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP this season. His mark of 0.5 HR/9 is the best in baseball. Meanwhile, he’s making about $500,000 this year and is under team control through 2023.
Of course teams are calling.
“I feel like everybody needs young, controllable pitching but I’m not worried in any way shape or form that I’m gonna get out of here. I wanna stay here,” Fulmer said. “Obviously I love this team, I want everybody to stay here.”
The Tigers enter the second half at 39-48 and 6.5 games out of a playoff spot. Time is running out with the trade deadline looming, but Fulmer still believes they can turn it around.
“I feel like if we can keep this team together we’ve got a shot, we really do,” he said.
He pointed to the ball club’s collective experience as the reason.
“This is the most veteran team in the big leagues I think. Just seeing all the guys we have — Ver, Vic, Miggy, Kinsler, J-Up, Avila — all these guys are huge leaders in their own way. To keep them together and keep all of us together, I feel like it’s a good bridge between them teaching us younger guys, too,” said Fulmer.
“I know I’ve learned so much from each and every one of these guys. I know D-No (Daniel Norris) has and Matt Boyd has and Castellanos has,” he added.
Brad Ausmus is doing his best to keep his players’ minds off the rumors.
“The easiest way would be keeping you guys (the media) out of the clubhouse,” he joked, “because if they’re not asked about it they wouldn’t be thinking about it.”
When it was pointed out to him that Fulmer came across the rumors on his own, via social media, Ausmus said with a grin, “Yeah, they should get off social media, that’s a waste of time.”
“The important thing is when the game starts, when the bell rings, it’s not on their mind,” he went on. “When they step in the batter’s box they’re not thinking, ‘Could I be getting traded?’ while they’re trying to see a guy’s breaking ball. I think it’s more of a distraction around the game than during the actual game.”
He knows certain players are more conscious of the rumors than others.
“The one thing you do is just talk to them about it and be honest with them when they ask,” said Ausmus.