You’ll never see a slideshow on the Internet of “The Fairest Trades in Baseball History.” But if such a thing existed (I wouldn’t click on it), last year’s midseason trade between the Tigers and Mets would probably make the list.
To recap, the Mets acquired Yoenis Cespedes for minor leaguers (at the time) Luis Cessa and Michael Fulmer. We all know what Cespedes did last year—he led the Mets to a National League pennant while winning Jerry Seinfeld’s admiration, which is no easy task. Cespedes continues to be a rockstar a year later, peppering the Citi Field bleachers with dingers and driving cool cars to spring training. In other words, he’s the coolest dude in Queens.
Cespedes has been a marvelous addition but so has Fulmer. The 23-year-old has taken the league by storm since making his debut in late April. Fulmer blanked the Yankees over six dominant frames Sunday in his ninth career start. In doing so, he pushed his unbeaten streak to seven games while extending his scoreless innings streak to 28 1/3. The right-hander has now accounted for seven of the Tigers’ 32 wins this year. That’s one more than Justin Verlander ($175 million contract), four more than Anibal Sanchez ($80 million) and only one fewer than Jordan Zimmermann ($110 million). Sunday’s outing lowered Fulmer’s season ERA to 2.52. If he were qualified (he hasn’t thrown enough innings yet), his ERA would rank 11th in MLB and fourth in the American League. And all it cost Detroit was one of the game’s best outfielders!
Looking back at the trade, the Tigers did what they had to do. In the midst of a lost season, the Tigers correctly assumed they wouldn’t be able to re-sign Cespedes, who was in the last year of his contract. Rather than letting him walk and getting nothing in return, GM Dave Dombrowski (now with the Red Sox) wisely targeted Fulmer while giving the Mets’ the offensive weapon they had coveted for so long.
It might seem like it, but Fulmer didn’t appear out of thin air. For years he’s been among the best prospects in baseball. Before his midseason trade to Detroit in 2015, Fulmer carried a stellar 2.03 ERA in 16 starts across two minor league levels. He was only in Double-A but that didn’t make him any less appealing. It was a desperate time for the Tigers. Detroit had just lost Max Scherzer to the Nationals and Justin Verlander was struggling after landing on the disabled list for the first time in his career. The Tigers needed a spark or at least something to look forward to. Fulmer checked both of those boxes.
So far the Tigers have handled Fulmer the right way. They started him in the minor leagues this year and even after his call-up there was no guarantee that Fulmer would remain in the starting rotation. At the time, he was just a fill-in for injured starter Shane Greene. By lowering expectations, Fulmer was able to grow into his role and now he’s thriving in it. The Tigers are still being somewhat conservative with his pitch count. He’s only reached the century mark three times with a high of 106 pitches against the Rays on May 21.
Even Luis Cessa, who is no longer on the team, was put to good use. The Tigers dealt him to the Yankees last offseason in exchange for Justin Wilson, who has thrived as a left-handed specialist and middle reliever.
But hey, the Mets aren’t complaining. Fulmer, for all his bells and whistles, was a luxury the Mets could afford to lose. The Mets already have a surplus of young pitching with Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard all under team control for several more years. Zack Wheeler, who is close to returning from Tommy John surgery, falls under the same umbrella. With so much young talent in the rotation, Fulmer was always more useful to the Mets as a trade chip.
In the end, the Mets and Tigers made a trade that actually helped both teams. Who knew there was such a thing as happily ever after?
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Anderson Shines in Debut
They say you only get one chance to make a first impression. Rockies rookie Tyler Anderson made the most of his.
Making your first start in the major leagues is difficult. Making your major league debut at Coors Field … well that’s next to impossible. Luckily for the Rockies, Anderson was up for the challenge. The left-hander held the visiting Padres to just six hits and one run over 6 1/3 innings while finishing with six strikeouts.
We all know the Padres are pushovers—they’ve been shut out 10 times this year—but none of that should take away from Anderson’s brilliant debut. The game was tied when Anderson exited, forcing him to settle for a no-decision. The Rockies eventually won 2-1 on Mark Reynolds’ go-ahead homer in the seventh inning.
Sunday was a day of redemption for Anderson, who missed all of last year while battling elbow issues. Just when it looked like Anderson might finally make his big league debut, an oblique injury in spring training pushed back his arrival date. After making six rehab starts across three minor league levels, the Rockies finally deemed him ready.
Anderson’s debut came on the heels of a major shakeup in the Rockies’ starting rotation. Eddie Butler was pushed to the bullpen while Opening Day starter Jorge De La Rosa is set to return Tuesday against the Yankees. De La Rosa was removed from the rotation after pitching to a miserable 11.41 ERA in his first six starts but earned another shot by posting a 1.13 ERA over three relief appearances. Butler forced manager Walt Weiss’ hand by recording a dismal 5.97 ERA over seven starts.
Weiss could have kept things the way they were but with the Rockies still treading water in the NL West (they’re only 7 1/2 games out of first place), he decided to shake things up. Rotation juggling has become an annual rite of passage for the Rockies. The reason is simple. Nobody wants to pitch at Coors Field and the ones who do simply aren’t getting the job done.
The splits are staggering. The Rockies own a reasonable 3.63 ERA on the road this year, good for seventh-best in the majors. At home, they’re dead last with a pitiful 6.24 ERA over 264 innings of work. Even right-hander Tyler Chatwood, a borderline All-Star with eight wins and a sturdy 2.89 ERA, has had a hard time pitching at Coors Field (5.10 ERA in seven starts). Mother Nature 1, Rockies 0. Pitching will always be a struggle for Colorado but for one day, the baseball gods played nice and gave Anderson a debut he’ll never forget.
Quick Hits: Terry Collins fell ill before Sunday’s game against the Brewers and was taken to a hospital. Bench coach Dick Scott managed the Mets in Sunday’s 5-3 loss. Collins stayed overnight in Milwaukee but should be fine … Neil Walker missed Sunday’s action after leaving Saturday’s game with lower back tightness. It’s been a rough week for Walker, who bowed out of a game on Thursday night after taking a hard grounder off his chest … Brewers Opening Day starter Wily Peralta was optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs on Sunday. Peralta owns MLB’s second-highest ERA (6.68) and second-worst WHIP (1.88) among starting pitchers. Matt Garza will replace him in the starting rotation … Mike Trout left Sunday’s game in the eighth inning after taking a pitch off his right thumb. His X-rays came back negative and the Angels are calling him day-to-day … Before his exit, Trout ripped a hard groundball that hit Juan Uribe below the belt. Michael Martinez moved to third base after Uribe was carted off … Top Rays prospect Blake Snell will join the starting rotation Thursday against the Mariners with Matt Andriese shifting to the bullpen. Snell allowed just one run over five innings in his major league debut against the Yankees on April 23 … Ike Davis agreed to a one-year deal with the Yankees after opting out of his minor league contract with Texas earlier this week. The Yankees are desperate for help at first base with Mark Teixeira (knee), Greg Bird (shoulder), Dustin Ackley (shoulder) and Chris Parmelee (hamstring) all sidelined … Cole Hamels recorded his 2000th career strikeout Sunday in a dominant seven-inning effort against the Mariners. Adrian Beltre missed that game with a strained hamstring. It was Beltre’s third absence in a row … Yordano Ventura, the subject of Friday’s Daily Dose, recorded a season-high 10 strikeouts Sunday in a win over the White Sox. Ventura is appealing a nine-game suspension he received for throwing at Orioles SS/3B Manny Machado … Chris Davis is starting to swing a hot bat. He extended his home run streak to five games Sunday with a two-run blast off Jays right-hander Aaron Sanchez. That’s the second-longest home run streak of Davis’ career … J.J. Hardy is expected to begin a rehab assignment in the next few days. He’s been sidelined with a fractured left foot … Jose Bautista missed his third game in a row Sunday against the Orioles but manager John Gibbons is confident he’ll return to the lineup Monday against the Phillies. Ezequiel Carrera has been filling in at right field … Brock Holt will start playing in rehab games later this week. Holt suffered his second concussion in three years last month in a game against Oakland … Twins rookie Max Kepler picked an ideal time to hit his first career homer. Kepler belted a three-run walk-off blast to beat the Red Sox Sunday at Target Field. It took Kepler 55 at-bats to hit his first big-league home run … Jayson Werth delivered his own walk-off Sunday in a win over the Phillies. His two-out base hit in the ninth inning plated Bryce Harper and Danny Espinosa … Alfredo Simon has been dropped from the Reds’ starting rotation. Simon is 2-6 this year with an ERA north of nine … Robbie Ray fanned six hitters over 7 2/3 shutout innings Sunday in the longest start of his career. The win was Ray’s first since May 16 against the Yankees … Yangervis Solarte is expected to return Monday against the Marlins. He missed Sunday’s series finale with a bruised thumb.