Chicago Cubs Reportedly Signing Righty Reliever Michael Fulmer (UPDATE)
UPDATE: Sahadev Sharma reports that the deal is one year and $4 million, which is undoubtedly a whole lot less than you would’ve projected for Fulmer at the start of the offseason.
The payroll projections for the Cubs right now have them around $12 million below the first luxury tax tier, which is probably a good guess for what the payroll budget is this season. So, post-Fulmer, the Cubs will have $8 million to work with for any other additions and then in-season moves. I have a hard time seeing the Cubs leaving themselves less than $5 million for in-season maneuvering.
I think you could argue there’s still enough there to add one of the remaining lefty relievers (though probably not Matt Moore) even without moving out other salary. It just depends on how good of a value the Cubs see those deals right now, how comfortable they are with their in-house, non-roster relief options, and how willing the Cubs are to enter into the season so close to the luxury tax.
*original post follows*
There it is! The long-awaited Chicago Cubs relief signing, and it’s actually the guy who was rumored about the longest ago.
It’s not a lefty, but instead its righty Michael Fulmer:
Woo hoo! I understand the desire to get another lefty in the mix (and there might yet be one who wins a job this spring, paring with Brandon Hughes, or there’s a slim chance that one of the remaining lefties falls to the Cubs). But Fulmer is really good, and has some upside. Very excited about this. Odds are good he won’t be officially added until next week when the Cubs can transfer players to the 60-day IL. Wonder how much he commands this late in the market, and whether the Cubs will have much left below the first luxury tax tier (where it seems like they want to stay, and have room for in-season additions)?
More soon, but here’s what I wrote back in December when there were rumors that the Cubs were into Fulmer:
The 29-year-old former starting pitcher transitioned to the bullpen with the Tigers early in the 2021 season, and generally took really well to the role: 2.90 ERA over 111.2 innings the last two seasons, 3.40 FIP, 23.8% K, 8.5% BB. If he weren’t associated with being a semi-disappointing post-hype starting pitcher for so long (yes, he was a frequent Cubs trade rumor in the “cost-controlled starter” days), I think more folks would be talking about him as a really nice option in free agency. He’s been a kinda awesome reliever for two years now.
If Fulmer isn’t looking at a big score this offseason – maybe teams want to see him pitch successfully in high-leverage relief a little longer – he could try to sign a short-term deal with the Cubs, work on his stuff further, and then look for a bigger contract next offseason at age 30. The Cubs have cultivated something of a specialty there, bringing in good relievers, helping them have exceptional seasons, and then getting them paid in free agency thereafter. I would think that track record would be mighty attractive to someone like Fulmer.
Heck, in Fulmer’s case, given their situation, the Cubs could try to woo him with the opportunity to close, too.