On Thursday morning, the Detroit Tigers announced that outfielder JaCoby Jones has been reinstated from the injured list and placed on the 25-man roster. In a corresponding move, outfielder Mikie Mahtook was designated for assignment. Mahtook is out of options, and he will be put through waivers. If Mahtook isn’t claimed, he can be outrighted to Triple-A Toledo, where he spent 72 games in 2018.
Jones, who served as the Tigers’ everyday center fielder in 2018, spent the first two weeks of the 2019 season on the injured list after spraining his right shoulder in spring training. His five-game rehab stint in High-A Lakeland yielded a .211/.348/.316 line, including seven strikeouts in 23 plate appearances. He moved to Triple-A Toledo on Wednesday and had a triple in the Mud Hens’ losing effort. While his bat likely won’t provide much relief to a Tigers club that has been struggling badly at the plate, his elite defense up the middle will fortify an otherwise defensively challenged outfield.
Mahtook, a former first round pick, was acquired by the Tigers from the Tampa Bay Rays in advance of the 2017 season. He promptly had the best season of his career, posting a respectable 107 wRC+, seven percent above league average. Regression hit him hard in 2018, and he spent an extended time in the minors while putting up a thoroughly uninspiring performance in 67 major league games. Overall, the 29-year-old Mahtook has posted an 87 wRC+ in a Tigers uniform.
The beneficiary here is Dustin Peterson, who has earned an extended look as the team’s fourth outfielder. While he has looked a bit overmatched in limited MLB at-bats, his 4-for-16 line looks quite a bit better than Mahtook’s 0-for-23. Peterson also has youth on his side. It will be interesting to see how he does with this opportunity to stick on the major league roster.