Detroit Tigers: Cameron Maybin Replacements
With Cameron Maybin out, here are some players the Detroit Tigers could turn to as replacements.
The Detroit Tigers suffered a blow on Thursday, as it was announced that center fielder Cameron Maybin would miss 4-6 weeks with “a non-displaced fracture of his left wrist.” The former Tigers prospect was hit by a pitch during the team’s split-squad loss to the New York Yankees.
While Maybin’s injury isn’t severe enough to warrant a significant acquisition (like Prince Fielder to make up for the loss of Victor Martinez), it could force Detroit to make a move. ESPN’s Katie Strang tweeted that it “Does not sound like the Tigers are ruling out brining in another CF from outside of camp. Thin on major-league level depth at center.”
So the Tigers could make an addition. Whether they do that or look internally, here’s some potential replacements.
Gose and Bernard are very similar players in the sense that both rely on speed. Both players are threats to steal at least 30 bases, if not more. Gose swiped 23 bags for Detroit last season while Bernard has 88 stolen bases in the last two minor league seasons. Additionally, both chip in with a fair number of extra-base hits—or at least more than one would think for a table setter.
The former Blue Jay hit 24 doubles, eight triples and five home runs. If you’re counting along at home, that’s a grand total of 37 extra-base hits. By comparison, White Sox first baseman Adam LaRoche has averaged 40 per season since 2013.
With Double-A Erie in 2015, Bernard had 29 doubles, eight triples and four home runs.
However, the big difference between Gose and Bernard’s respective games is on-base skills.
In four big league seasons, the comparative veteran has never eclipsed a .260 batting average and is a career .243 hitter. He isn’t one to post high on-base percentages either. He posted his best OBP with the Tigers last year, ant it was only .321.
On the other hand, Bernard has hit .323 and .301 in the past two seasons. Obviously those numbers came in Single-A and Double-A, but the outfielder has also shown an ability to draw walks, as well as bunt for hits. Additionally, at 25-years-old, Bernard may be better suited to make the jump from Double-A to the Majors compared to younger prospects.
Gose or Bernard would likely hit towards the bottom of the Tigers order—either eighth or ninth as a quasi-leadoff man.
It’s also possible that Mike Aviles or Tyler Collins could get a handful of starts in center, but don’t expect either to play there more than they need to.
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The reality here is that there isn’t much out there. Austin Jackson is the only legitimate starting center fielder left on the market. While he would make for a nice fit and a feel-good reunion story, the Tigers probably don’t want to pay him to be a depth piece.
Jackson turned down a one-year deal “believed to be in the neighborhood of $5 million or $6 million” from the Angels (per Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com). He probably isn’t going to take less with the Tigers, especially considering how soon Maybin will return.
What’s more, even if the team signed Jackson, they’d have four players (Jackson, Maybin, Gose and Bernard) with extremely similar skill sets battling for one position. That’s not going to work.
Fuld and Carrera are solid defensive and running options, but neither are world beaters at the plate. If this injury happened earlier, Detroit probably would have had more options. However, most teams will be looking to hang on to any potential fifth or sixth outfielders in the hope that someone catches fire and provides an impact. Fuld and Carrera just happen to be buried on Oakland and Toronto’s respective depth charts.
Bourn would be an interesting player to take a flier on, but the Tigers would need the Braves to eat all of – if not most of—his salary. That seems unlikely without a somewhat significant player heading to Atlanta.
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It should be pointed out that Maybin’s issue will see him back with the team before the calendar turns to May. This isn’t a debilitating type of injury. The pill is also easier to swallow given that Gose is an experienced option that the team can turn to. Bernard’s chances of making the team have gone up, and a platoon of Gose and Bernard is the probably the most likely scenario at this point.