The 2022 Los Angeles Dodgers need bullpen help, especially considering the 2021 Los Angeles Dodgers also did, then proceeded to lose two of their most crucial late-inning arms in Kenley Jansen and Joe Kelly.
Typically, that’s not a recipe for success, unless you’re in the business of tripping ass-backwards into things.
Last winter, when the Dodgers needed to beef up their particular area, they took a number of high-variance, bounce-back fliers on players from Corey Knebel (worked) to Jimmy Nelson (somewhere in between) to Tommy Kahnle (jury still out, never pitched and never really intended to).
Mid-season, when the injury bug struck and LA had to go back to the well, they truly tried any ‘pen arms they could get their hands on, and a few of them stuck — Alex Vesia, meet Phil Bickford.
This time around, with even more roles up for grabs, the Dodgers should be proactive in building the kind of depth they know should be available, pending unforeseen injury issues.
That’s why we’ve taken plenty of time to speculate about bullpen solutions this offseason, from a wild Craig Kimbrel trade to a tack-on of Amir Garrett in a Luis Castillo package.
Now, it’s time to consider plundering the Detroit Tigers, a team close to making noise, but not close enough to turn down a slight overpay for one of their back-end arms. Could the Dodgers make a play for Michael Fulmer?
Dodgers-Tigers projected Michael Fulmer trade
Dodgers Receive: Michael Fulmer
Tigers Receive: No. 13 Prospect 3B Kody Hoese, No. 20 Prospect C Jesus Galiz
Fulmer’s a free agent following the 2022 season, so let’s just say we don’t plan to unload the farm for him, even in this fantastical exercise.
All the more reason for the Tigers to listen, though. Even with the Javier Baez and Eduardo Rodriguez additions, plus the likely Spencer Torkelson call-up, it would be a stretch to say Detroit is “one Fulmer away” from bonafide World Series contention. The burly 29-year-old right-hander, who’s also been quite volatile in recent years, is more likely to help them this year in accruing more assets for 2023 rather than closing out Game 7.
In order to build a trade package that straddles the line between enticing and overpay, we dangled Hoese, a 2019 first-rounder who the Tigers might be able to get more out of than the Dodgers (his potent bat has stalled), as well as a lottery-ticket international signee, who could do wonders for Detroit’s depth at the position.
One year removed from an 8.78 ERA out of the rotation in 10 starts with the 2020 Tigers, Fulmer became a legitimate bullpen weapon with the 2021 Kitties, worth 1.9 WAR with a 2.78 ERA after transitioning into the closer’s role midway through the campaign.
Fulmer might not be LA’s closer of the future, but anyone who had a beastly 2021 certainly helps lock down what’s currently empty space around Blake Treinen.