Following the Tigers’ decisions to exercise closer Francisco Rodriguez’s option and to trade center fielder Cameron Maybin to the Angels for pitcher Victor Alcantara, the team issued a statement with quotes from GM Avila. In the wake of Maybin’s departure, the team will sort through various options at center field next season, Avila says.
“We will weigh our options as far as center field is concerned for next season,” says the GM. “There will be a wide open competition starting in the spring and we’ll see how it plays out.”
The team’s options at center field could include JaCoby Jones, Tyler Collins and Anthony Gose. All three, though, come with drawbacks. Jones mostly played infield in the minors, has limited experience above Double-A and batted just .243/.309/.356 while striking out in 29.9% of his plate appearances at Triple-A Toledo last year. Collins posted a .687 OPS for Detroit last season and fared even worse at Toledo. And Gose also failed to hit, batting .209/.287/.341 in the big leagues in 2016. In contrast, Maybin’s 2016 season was a highly successful one, and it appears the Tigers will miss his .383 OBP in particular. Avila’s comments don’t preclude the possibility that the Tigers could expand their search for a center fielder outside the organization, however.
Regarding Rodriguez, Avila says, “We liked the job K-Rod did last season and the numbers show he was a reliable closer for us. He stabilizes the back end of our bullpen and provides veteran leadership to our younger bullpen arms.” The 34-year-old K-Rod figures to close for the Tigers next season, unless the Tigers decide to put him on the trade market.