By: Will Burchfield
Michael Fulmer doesn’t particularly care whether the Tigers sell or stand pat at the trade deadline. He knows it’s far beyond his control.
He just wants the organization to commit one way or the other.
“I hope that if we go ahead and sell, I hope we do it all. I hope we go all out. I hope we don’t kind of sell a few guys here. I hope we get younger. I hope we just take a more business approach to it, and that’s what I kind of told (assistant GM) David (Chadd). Whatever has to be done, it needs to be done. I just want to win. That’s my main priority.”
Five days remain before the July 31 deadline, and the Tigers figure to be prominent players. Their season hasn’t gone according to plan and an opportunity beckons to brighten the future.
“Obviously at the start of the year we thought we had a very good chance to win. And we still think that. We all believe that we can go out and compete with the best teams in the league. Obviously Al (Avila) has a different approach to it now because he wants to sell everything and kind of start all over, which is fine by me. Either way I’m good,” Fulmer said. “I just want to be part of a winning team.”
It would be a stretch to say Fulmer was sending a message upstairs. He was musing on the topic more than pontificating, stretched out in his clubhouse chair, a chew in his cheek.
He’s unruffled by the rumors anyway. When Avila addressed the team and laid out his plan earlier this month — “He basically already told us what’s going on and what he’s gonna try to do,” Fulmer said — he encouraged the players to come directly to him with any questions or concerns.
Fulmer, even with his name popping up in rumors, hasn’t bothered the GM. The 24-year-old appreciates the business of baseball and needs no explanation of his value.
“Who doesn’t want controllable starting pitching?” said Fulmer, who’s controllable through 2022. “For any team, it doesn’t matter if you’re buying or selling or standing pat, if you can have a guy that you want on your team for a few more years, I understand that.”
Fulmer has indeed talked to Chadd, the assistant GM, but only because Chadd approached him. Chadd wanted to know how Fulmer has been handling the uncertainty.
“I said, ‘Look, I really am not worried about it. I’m gonna pitch wherever I’m at and give 110 percent,” Fulmer said.
Still, there’s a lot at stake in the coming days for Fulmer. Aside from the small possibility of being dealt, he could suddenly find himself entrenched in a long and painful rebuild. His best years could come on a losing team.
Does that worry him?
“Yeah, it’s crossed my mind,” he said. “Then again, I hope I get an opportunity where I can actually be a leader for this team, like Ver and Miggy and Victor and Ian and J-Up have been to me — especially Ver, being part of the pitching staff. I hope I can be to some of the other young guys, when they get called up, what he was to me.
“Obviously I’d like to play with them as long as I can, but if business says otherwise…”
Fulmer’s thought trailed off, swallowed up by the unknown. There’s little point in worrying about the future because there’s no way of telling it.
“I get texts from friends and stuff, asking me what’s going on, and I just say, ‘I don’t know.’ I tell them I don’t worry about it,” said Fulmer. “I’m at that point now where whatever happens, happens. And I believe everything happens for a reason.”