The Detroit Tigers have a logjam of outfielders and a need at 1B. Could an offseason trade with the Mariners help solve both issues?
With the Detroit Tigers season all but over, it’s time to turn our attention to the offseason. The Tigers have a lengthy list of things they can do this offseason to help the team both in the short-term and in the long-term.
Two checklist items include clearing out Detroit’s hefty logjam of outfielders, and acquiring a first baseman. As a fellow FanSided writer at Sodo Mojo pointed out, Detroit could kill two birds with one stone by making a trade with the Seattle Mariners.
Detroit sends outfielder Mikie Mahtook to Seattle for first baseman Daniel Vogelbach
The Tigers will go into the offseason with eight big league ready outfielders in JaCoby Jones, Mikie Mahtook, Nicholas Castellanos, Christin Stewart, Dustin Peterson, Mike Gerber, Jim Adduci and Victor Reyes. That’s too many. And while many of them are acceptable to leave in Triple-A, the Tigers should probably clear out a veteran or two to allow more playing time for their prospects to get a crack at the big leagues.
Mahtook is really the only ‘veteran’ who doesn’t have a clear future in the Motor City. As such, he is the most likely to be dealt. Mahtook was a revelation last season, coming in as a relatively unheralded minor league free agent who ended up winning the left field job and slashing .276/.330/.457 with 12 home runs and six stolen bases.
However, 2018 has not been as kind to the 28-year-old. After a terrible spring training, Mahtook was quickly sent to Triple-A. He spent most of the season in Toledo, hitting .251 with 11 home runs. He has only hit .209/.286/.353 in the big leagues, although he has been much better in the last month or so.
Vogelbach is a 25-year-old first baseman with huge power but concerning strikeout totals. Up to this point, he has looked like a quintessential Quad-A player. He has an excellent .291/.411/.496 slash line with 60 home runs in 342 games at Triple-A – but just a .196/.306/.280 line with two home runs in 51 big league games.
It’s a medium-risk, high-reward scenario for the Tigers. If Vogelbach can start to harness some of his power and plate discipline in the big leagues, he has the potential to be a 25 home run threat. If not, he will be the next Steven Moya/Jeff Larish. However, Mahtook doesn’t have a future in the Motor City, so even if Vogey doesn’t work out it is not a huge loss.
For the Mariners, the acquisition of Dee Gordon has pushed Robinson Cano to first base duties. Along with Ryon Healy, the team no longer needs Vogelbach. They lacked in outfield depth this season, and will likely lose Denard Span to free agency, unless they pick up his $12 million option.
The Detroit Tigers will have a busy offseason as they try to keep marching through the rebuild while putting the most competitive, cost-controlled team on the field that they can. This trade would help them get more at-bats for younger players, while giving them a first baseman with Miguel Cabrera no doubt sliding over to DH.