Can the Detroit Tigers move Mahtook for a relatively premium return? Or at least significant pieces that can help the team in the future?
These two questions would probably be easy yeses from an answer standpoint if the free agent and trade markets were devoid of outfield options.
However, that’s not exactly the case.
The free agent market is littered with outfield bats, many of whom (J.D. Martinez, Justin Upton, Curtis Granderson, Austin Jackson—I can keep going—Rajai Davis and Cameron Maybin) used to play for Detroit.
Purely from a financial standpoint, other teams may find it more appealing to trade for Mahtook than overpay an aging player with a multi-year deal as said player begins to decline.
Per Spotrac, the outfielder has four years of controllability left and isn’t eligible until arbitration until after the 2018 campaign.
The trade market
Mahtook certainly wouldn’t draw the kind of prospect haul that other outfielders conceivably on the trade market would.
Still, in a similar vein to the free agent market, Mahtook could appeal to teams who aren’t willing to sacrifice the kind of prospect capital required to nab Yellich or Grichuk.
If Mahtook is shopped, the Tigers should market him as a center fielder to maximize any potential return.
His power and extra-base ability plays better in center field, where slugging players are less common.
Had Mahtook qualified from a plate appearances standpoint, he would have tied for eighth in the league among center fielders in ISO.
The seven players with a higher ISO number include Andrew McCutchen, Chris Taylor, Tommy Pham, George Springer, Granderson, Charlie Blackmon and some Anaheim player named Mike Trout. Might have heard of him.