The Detroit Tigers bolstered their center field options by acquiring right-handed hitting Mikie Mahtook from the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday for cash or a player to be named later. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Tigers designated outfielder Anthony Gose for assignment. Detroit now has 10 days to trade Gose or put him through waivers, after which he could be outrighted to the minor leagues if he is not given his unconditional release, making him a free agent.
Mahtook spent parts of the last two seasons in the Rays’ outfield, with much more success in his first year than he had in 2016. He hit .295/.351/.619 in 115 plate appearances in 2015, slugging nine home runs and stealing four bases. In 2016, his production fell to .195/.231/.292 with three home runs and no steals in 185 plate appearances. He was worth 1.8 fWAR in 2015 and -0.8 WAR last season.
Mahtook is a former first round draft pick, the 31st overall selection out of Louisiana State University in the 2011 draft. The soon to be 27-year-old right-handed hitter is listed at 6’1, 200 pounds. He has played all three outfield positions, almost equally, logging 27 games in right field, 26 games in center, and 21 games in left field for the Rays. He became expendable when the Rays acquired Colby Rasmus and Mallex Smith to go with defensive whiz Kevin Kiermayer, Cory Dickerson, Steven Souza, and Nick Franklin.
The newest Tiger was added to the Rays’ 40 man roster after the 2014 season, and has been up and down between the minors six times over the past two seasons, burning two options with one option remaining. He could fit as a right-handed platoon partner for Tyler Collins in center field, or allow the club to keep Steven Moya, a lefthander, on the roster and use Mahtook and Justin Upton in center field.
Gose was designated for assignment after having a turbulent season in 2016 which saw him being optioned to Triple-A Toledo. With the Mud Hens, he had an altercation with manager Lloyd McLendon, who is now the Tigers’ hitting coach, and was sent further down to Double-A Erie.
Before being sent down, Gose batted just .209/.287/.341. Between Erie and Toledo, he hit just .203/.276/.312 with seven home runs and 17 steals in 90 games. Gose is still just 26 years old, but is out of options, and did not look like the Tigers’ solution to their center field vacancy.