Detroit has historically carried five outfielders on their roster. That will likely be the case again in 2018. Mahtook, Martin, Castellanos and Reyes each have roster spots.
It is entirely possible that the final spot will be filled by a minor league free agent, similar to Alex Presley last year. If not, there will be an internal competition for that final spot.
Below are a few internal options who could compete for that spot. Regardless, all of them will likely be in the major leagues at some point next season.
Considering that Jones saw 141 at-bats with the Tigers last year, including being in the opening day starting lineup, he seems to have the upper hand on a 25-man roster spot.
However, his immense struggles down the stretch may lead him to start the season out at Triple-A. Jones hit .170/.240/.270 for the Tigers with three home runs and six stolen bases. His 42.2% strikeout rate was one of the highest in the league. That will need to come down for him to ever have success in the major leagues.
Jones could benefit from more time in the minor leagues. He’s had 643 at-bats at Triple-A, and only 223 at Double-A.
While his Double-A numbers are strong, his Triple-A slash line of .244/.312/.373 leaves quite a bit to be desired. Jones hit .245 with nine home runs and 12 stolen bases at Triple-A last year after getting demoted. He struck out in 26.5% of his at-bats.
Ultimately, Jones will be in the major leagues at some point next season. But until he learns to limit his strikeouts, his tantalizing power-speed combination is best left at Triple-A.
The Tigers selected Mike Gerber in the 15th round in 2014. He has mashed at every level since then, earning himself a brief cameo at Triple-A last year. If he continues to hit the Tigers will likely give him a chance to perform in the big leagues. He was added to the 40-man roster before the Rule 5 draft, a good indication that the Tigers are invested in his future.
The right fielder slashed .291/.363/.477 with 13 home runs and 10 stolen bases in 350 at-bats at Double-A last season. He posted a 131 wRC+. He then went 7-for-17 in four games at Triple-A.
Gerber swings from the left side and has had trouble hitting left-handed pitchers in the minors. That could make him more of a platoon bat in the major leagues.
His defense is rated well in right field, so if nothing else he has a chance to make the major leagues as a defensive replacement for Castellanos, especially against right-handed pitchers.
Gerber is unlikely to start the 2018 season on the Tigers. However, a strong first half in Toledo will almost certainly lead to a call-up during the year.
Christin Stewart mashed last season. Long considered one of the Tigers top hitting prospects, Stewart showed everyone why last year at Double-A Erie.
Stewart blasted 28 home runs and drove in 86. He hit .256/.335/.501 with a 126 wRC+.
Stewart hit 30 home runs between High-A and Double-A in 2016, so the power is very real.
Similar to Gerber, Stewart does not have enough experience at Triple-A (in this case none) to make the jump straight to the major leagues on opening day. However, he is a near-lock to open the season as a starter at Triple-A. If he hits well it may not be long before he is wearing the old English D.
Stewart’s one huge flaw is his defense. He started 123 games in left field last season, so the Tigers appear to be holding out hope that he can stick out there. However, with Castellanos already in the mix it may be tough for the Tigers to stomach both him and Stewart in the outfield at the same time.
Should anything happen to Victor Martinez, Stewart is a candidate to be recalled and penciled in at DH. Fans can hope that the 24-year-old will find his way defensively, as his power appears to be big league ready.
Losing Justin Upton and J.D Martinez will no doubt hurt the Tigers production in the outfield. However, there is a lot to look forward to with this young crew.
Rebuilding always takes time, but watching players like JaCoby Jones and Christin Stewart grow into stars is worth the wait. Soon they will be joined by Daz Cameron to form another strong outfield for the Tigers to contend with in 2020 and beyond.