The Angels wasted no time in filling their left field need this winter, as they announced on the first afternoon of the offseason that they’ve acquired Cameron Maybin from the Tigers in exchange for minor league righty Victor Alcantara and exercised Maybin’s $9MM club option for the 2017 season.
After an aggressive 2015-16 offseason, the Tigers shifted course recently, with GM Al Avila saying the team was going to prioritize getting younger and would no longer “play above its means.” Moving Maybin allows the Tigers to trim some money off the 2017 ledger without losing the talented outfielder for nothing, and they’ll now not only save his $9MM salary but also the $1MM they’d have paid by simply buying the option out. It remains to be seen what the Tigers are receiving in exchange, though the Angels notoriously have one of the league’s worst farm systems (if not the worst). Nonetheless, the Tigers can still pick up a piece or two to add to the farm system and better position themselves for the future.
Maybin, 30 in April, was originally drafted by the Tigers in the first round back in 2005 but found himself traded to the Marlins as one of the centerpieces of the Miguel Cabrera blockbuster (Andrew Miller was the other headliner). After bouncing around the National League a bit for the next several years, Maybin ended up back with the Tigers last season in a trade that sent Ian Krol and Gabe Speier to the Braves. A fractured wrist and a sprained thumb cost Maybin nearly half the season, but in the 94 games that he was healthy, he was quite productive, batting .315/.383/.415 with four home runs and 15 stolen bases. Defensive metrics have been down on Maybin’s work in center field for the past couple of years, but a move to left field should yield more favorable ratings.
Maybin will line up in the Halos’ outfield alongside superstar Mike Trout in center field and the highly undervalued Kole Calhoun in right field to give the Angels a talented and athletic trio of outfielders. With left field taken care of on the first day of the offseason, the Angels can quickly shift their focus to other areas of need this winter, namely second base, catcher and the pitching staff. As for the Tigers, the subtraction of Maybin will leave the team looking for center field help, although they could also turn to young JaCoby Jones in center field.
The 23-year-old Alcantara spent this past season with the Angels’ Double-A affiliate and logged a 4.30 ERA with 6.4 K/9, 4.6 BB/9 and a 55.6 percent ground-ball rate in 111 innings (20 starts, nine relief appearances). MLB.com rates Alcantara as the Halos’ No. 8 prospect and gives him a plus fastball and above-average slider on the 20-80 scouting scale. He’s been a starter for most of his minor league tenure, though the MLB.com report on him notes that Alcantara may not have the command or third pitch required to be a starter in the Majors and could instead be a highly effective reliever. Baseball America pegged him fourth among Angels farmhands in their midseason update and noted that his fastball velocity has dipped as he’s developed a more controlled delivery that is easier to repeat.
MLB.com’s Jason Beck (Twitter link) first reported that the Tigers were exploring trades for Maybin, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the Angels were acquiring him (Twitter link). Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reported that Alcantara would head back to the Tigers (Twitter link).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.