Cubs agree to deal with reliever Michael Fulmer

Fulmer has posted a 3.17 ERA the past two seasons and recorded 17 saves.

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The Cubs have agreed to sign right-hander Michael Fulmer, pending a physical, a source confirmed.

The Cubs have agreed to sign right-hander Michael Fulmer, pending a physical, a source confirmed.

Matt Marton/AP

Less than a week before pitchers and catchers report for spring training, the Cubs added to their bullpen.

Free-agent right-hander Michael Fulmer has agreed to a contract with the team, sources confirmed. The terms of the deal, which is pending a physical, were not available.

Fulmer gives the Cubs another option at the back end of the bullpen, an area left thin by trades at the deadline last year.

“That’s just an area you never feel totally comfortable, no matter what, just given the volatility of it,” Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said last month at the Cubs Convention. “Are we looking to add guys? Yes. But I do feel comfortable that we’re getting more and more arms. I think we have a lot of guys that can fill that role.”

Fulmer, 29, found success as a starter early in his career, winning American League Rookie of the Year in 2016 and becoming an All-Star the next year. But those accolades were tainted by injury, including a series of elbow operations.

In 2021, his first season as a reliever, he had a career-best 2.97 ERA and 14 saves with the Tigers. Last season, which he split between the Tigers and Twins, he regressed some, with his walk rate rising to 10.1%. Still, he entered free agency among the higher-rated non-closer relievers on the market.

The Cubs have gotten by without signing a bona fide closer in recent years, instead helping veteran relievers bounce back into more prominent roles. During the rebuild, they traded those veterans on short-term contracts midseason for younger players and prospects.

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