Tigers acquire Maybin in trade with Braves
DETROIT -- A decade after the Tigers drafted Cameron Maybin to be their center fielder of the future, they reacquired him to help their outfield of the present. The rangy, athletic outfielder rejoined his original organization Friday night in a trade with the Braves for left-handed reliever Ian Krol and lefty prospect Gabe Speier.
The deal gives the Tigers the right-handed-hitting outfielder they've been seeking, though his exact role going into next season is to be determined.
"Cameron Maybin is a good outfielder with plenty of experience in center field," said Tigers general manager Al Avila, who completed his second trade in three days in his first offseason in charge of retooling the Tigers. "He is coming off a solid offensive season in 2015 and brings speed and athleticism to our club. Brad Ausmus and the coaching staff will determine Cameron's role during Spring Training."
Ausmus echoed that in a text message Friday night.
"We don't have to make any decisions today," Ausmus told MLB.com. "But I like the coverage we have defensively."
The Tigers drafted Maybin out of high school in Asheville, N.C., with the 10th overall selection in the 2005 Draft. He was the first selection by then-scouting director David Chadd, now Avila's top assistant. After two years in the Minor Leagues, Maybin got his first shot in the big leagues as a Tiger in August 2007, hitting his first home run off Roger Clemens at Yankee Stadium.
Maybin finished out the season as a Tiger and was set to team with Curtis Granderson for an athletic outfield duo in left and center. A young slugger who suddenly hit the trading block changed those plans. Maybin went from an untouchable prospect to traded at the Winter Meetings in 2007, part of a six-player package for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis.
Maybin has been traded twice since, going from the Marlins to the Padres, then to the Braves last winter. His travels were furthered by his health, as injuries hampered his career through his early 20s. He gave a glimpse of what he can do with regular time this past season in Atlanta, where he batted .267 (135-for-505) with 10 home runs, 59 RBIs and 23 stolen bases. He committed just three errors in 341 total chances, good for a .991 fielding percentage.
Whether it's a building block for future seasons remains to be seen, but his availability in the Braves' rebuild caught the interest of the Tigers, who were looking for outfield help while saving payroll space for further needs on the pitching staff.
"He's very talented, a five-tool guy when healthy," Ausmus said. "And through experience, we believe he is entering his prime."
Maybin will make $8 million in the final guaranteed year of the five-year, $25 million contract he signed with the Padres. He has a $9 million team option, which the Tigers can buy out for $1 million. The Braves will reportedly cover $2.5 million of his salary.
The flip side of Maybin's return is the end of Krol's Tigers tenure after two difficult seasons as the most visible part of the return package in the Doug Fister trade. The 24-year-old Krol went 2-3 with 5.79 ERA in 33 appearances for the Tigers, covering 28 innings. He went 1-1 with a 2.30 ERA for Triple-A Toledo.
At his best, Krol showed flashes of being the power lefty reliever the Tigers badly needed. His inconsistency, however, prevented him from taking a regular role.
Speier, acquired last winter from Boston in the Yoenis Cespedes trade, went 4-2 with a 2.86 ERA in 44 innings for Class A West Michigan.
Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
Maybin rejuvenated his career by hitting .289 with eight homers and 15 steals in the first half of 2015, but a .240 average and two long balls after the All-Star break raised concerns about the sustainability of his improvements. Maybin may hit for average next season, but his heavy ground-ball lean will likely preclude him from tallying a considerable number of long balls. If he were to bat in front of the Tigers' heavy hitters, the 28-year-old could be an asset in shallow formats. But if he hits near the bottom of the lineup, he would be a replacement-level outfielder in 10-team mixed leagues.