The 2018 Tigers finished the season 64 – 98 placing them in third place in the American League Central and fifth worst in all of Major League Baseball. The season long struggles led the Tigers’ front office to continue to sell off high priced and valued assets to get younger talent that will expedite a rebuild.
During this process many names were floated out on the trade block. One of these names was the 2016 Rookie of the Year, Michael Fulmer.
Last season teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, who had a stacked Minor League system, were all in on Fulmer, yet Avila failed to pull the trigger on moving the young ace of this team’s rotation.
And that mistake will haunt this organization for years to come.
While Fulmer is the centerpiece of what the Tigers organization wants to build around, he is constantly hurt. On Tuesday afternoon it was reported that he needs Tommy John surgery to repair and reconstruct his ulnar collateral ligament inside his throwing elbow.
Since Fulmer’s ROY season, he has yet to play a whole year, he has never once eclipsed 165 innings in a season and has spent parts of his seasons with the Tigers on the Disable List. Coming into this season Fulmer would rehab from his third meniscus surgery and report to spring training in a knee brace that was prescribed and recommended by doctors to prevent future injury.
A decrease in velocity and wonky mechanics led to the team shutting him down last week in an effort to “refine his lower-body mechanics,” and get him right before the season starts.
Last season Avila had multiple teams willing to pay with elite level prospects for a banged up ace, yet Avila decided to hold on to a guy that can’t get through a single season healthy. The failure to kick this rebuild into overdrive should have Avila on the way out the door, instead the Tigers are now stuck with a pitcher who has one healthy elbow.