Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Cubs agree to terms with RHP Michael Fulmer on a one-year Major League contract

CHICAGO – Michael Fulmer, a right-handed pitcher, has signed a one-year major league contract with the Chicago Cubs. The deal’s terms were not made public. Codi Heuer, a right-handed pitcher, has been placed on the 60-day injured list in a similar move as he continues to recover from Tommy John surgery.

In his career, Fulmer, 29, has gone 34-45 with a 3.89 ERA (267 ER/617.0 IP), two complete games, one shutout, and 17 saves in 204 major league games (89 starts) with Minnesota and Detroit over six seasons (2016-2018, 2020-22). He won the American League Rookie of the Year award in 2016 for the fifth time in Tigers history and was named an All-Star in 2017. Before moving to the bullpen in 2021, Fulmer began his major league career as a starting pitcher.

During the 2022 season, the six-foot-three-inch Fulmer split time between Detroit and Minnesota, appearing in 67 games—tied for 11th most in the American League. The right-handed pitcher went 5-6 with a 3.39 earned run average (24 ER/63.2 innings), 25 saves, 61 strikeouts, and a 1.37 earned run average. He had a 1.89 ERA (7 ER/33.1 IP) in his first 34 appearances through July 12 and did not allow a run in 10 consecutive appearances (10.1 IP). Fulmer was traded to the Twins on August 2 in exchange for left-handed pitcher Sawyer Gipson-Long, and he started the season with the Tigers.

Fulmer made his major league debut in 2016 for Detroit, going 11-7 with a 3.06 ERA (54 ER/159.0 IP) in 26 starts. He went on to win both the American League Rookie of the Year award and the A.L. Cy Young Award, finishing 10th overall. He started the year at Triple-A Toledo, but he was called up to make his major league debut on April 29 at Minnesota, where he won with two earned runs over five innings. Fulmer threw 33.1 scoreless innings from May 21 to June 17, the longest streak in Tigers franchise history and the second-longest streak by a rookie in the majors since 1971, behind only Fernando Valenzuela (35.0 innings in 1981).

Fulmer made 25 starts in 2017 and was 10-12 with a 3.83 ERA (70 ER/164.2 IP). Prior to the All-Star break, he was 9-6 with a 3.19 ERA (41 ER/115.2 IP) in 17 starts. From April 7 to May 27, he made 10 quality starts in a row, earning him the Tigers Pitcher of the Month honors in May (3-2, 2.19) and June (2-3, 4.28). Despite being selected to the American League All-Star team, the right-hander did not pitch in the game.

Due to Tommy John surgery, Fulmer missed the 2019 season, but he came back to make 10 starts in the short 2020 season. He made 52 appearances in the bullpen during the 2021 season, all but four of them as a reliever. Elias noted that Fulmer became the first Tigers pitcher to make a start one day and earn a save the following day when he recorded his first major league save on May 5, 2021, against Boston.

The New York Mets selected Fulmer in the first round (44th overall) of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. On July 31, 2015, the Mets traded Fulmer to the Tigers in exchange for outfielder Yoenis Céspedes and right-handed pitcher Luis Cessa. Fulmer is from Guthrie, Oklahoma, and he went to Edmond, Oklahoma’s Deer Creek High School. In 86 major league relief appearances with the White Sox (2020-21) and Cubs (2021), Heuer, 26, is 10-4 with a 3.56 ERA (36 ER/91.0 IP) and has made three saves. On July 30, 2021, the Cubs acquired the native of Missoula, Montana, from the White Sox in exchange for right-handed pitcher Craig Kimbrel and infielder Nick Madrigal. In March 2022, Heuer underwent Tommy John surgery.

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