Here we are, two days into the offseason, and the Detroit Tigers are already making moves. As MLB.com’s Jason Beck reported Thursday evening, center fielder Cameron Maybin is on his way to the Los Angeles Angels in a deal that brings 23-year-old right-handed pitcher Victor Alcantara to Detroit.
The Tigers held a $9 million club option on Maybin, and they traded him without touching it. Had Detroit declined the option, Maybin would have become a free agent and likely would have signed with another team. This way, the Tigers got something for him instead of paying a $1 million buyout. The Angels announced the trade today and exercised Maybin’s club option.
Alcantara played for the Angels' Double-A affiliate, the Arkansas Travelers, in the 2016 season. He had an ERA of 4.30 over 111 innings in 29 games (20 starts). According to John Sickels of Minor League Ball, Alcantara is "a fireballer who can hit 97-98 (mph)" with a plus slider. His control and command need work and he is considered to be a "high upside, high risk" prospect.
Maybin was drafted by the Tigers in the first round of the 2004 amateur draft. He was sent to the then-Florida Marlins in the 2007 trade that sent Miguel Cabrera and others to Detroit. Maybin was reacquired by the Tigers in November 2015 in a trade with the Atlanta Braves that sent left-handed pitchers Ian Krol and Gabe Speier to Atlanta. Maybin batted .315 and had an on-base percentage of .383 in just 94 games in his injury-shortened 2016 season. He spent several stints on the disabled list due to a back injury out of spring training and injuries to his wrist, thumb, and shoulder over the course of the season.
The trade is surprising, as the Tigers could have exercised Maybin’s option and traded him at any time during the offseason. With a price tag of only $9 million, Maybin’s contract would seem to be affordable compared to the contracts of other centerfielders on the market.