Despite the fact that they already have an impressive trio of aces, the Yankees are still looking to add a fourth big-name starter and have Tigers right-hander Michael Fulmer and Diamondbacks lefty Patrick Corbin on their radar in trade talks, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY.
The Yankees perhaps have the best front end of a rotation in the American League with Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, and Sonny Gray, but the final two spots among next year’s starting five are currently up in the air, with Jordan Montgomery, Luis Cessa, Chad Green, Domingo German, and Chance Adams currently among the candidates to fill the latter two spots if no other veterans are added.
As good as the Yankees’ top three starters are right now, the 24-year-old Fulmer would arguably become the best pitcher in that rotation. Over his first two big-league seasons, he’s posted a 128 ERA+ while winning the 2016 AL Rookie of the Year and making the AL All-Star team in 2017. Fulmer is under control through the 2022 season, so he theoretically should command a boatload of premium prospects in return. With that said, the rebuilding Tigers seem eager to dump as many veterans as possible and may be more eager to part ways with Fulmer than a team would be under normal circumstances.
Corbin seems to be the better fit for the Yankees, who still believe Montgomery can be a key rotation piece at some point and have two starting pitching prospects (Chance Adams and Justus Sheffield) ranked among MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospects, as he’s a free agent following the 2018 season. With a lack of elite velocity, less of a recent track record, and just one year of control remaining, Corbin would likely command a more reasonable return than Fulmer would — an important factor to consider since the Yankees have already dealt quite a few prospects over the past year and presumably want to hang on to the best of the ones they have remaining. Corbin has some considerable upside heading into 2018, though; despite the fact that he allowed a career-high 26 home runs in 189.2 innings, he also had a career-best 119 ERA+ and could find greater success getting away from the hitter’s paradise that is Chase Field.
Fulmer is likely to earn a salary just slightly higher than the minimum in 2018, while Corbin is projected to earn $8.3 million in arbitration according to MLB Trade Rumors. Thus, there wouldn’t really be a major financial commitment required for either pitcher aside from the one that will have to be made to Fulmer in his late arbitration years. With that said, the Yankees freed up some payroll room on Tuesday by trading Chase Headley and his $13 million salary to the Pares.