The Detroit Tigers needed a player they could pencil in as their everyday right fielder, and it appears they’ve found their guy.
It was announced on Wednesday afternoon that the Tigers have signed outfielder Cameron Maybin to a 1-year, $1.5 million dollar contract. The corresponding move to make room for Maybin on the 40-man roster was placing Micheal Fulmer on the 60-day injured list, meaning there isn’t a need to designate anyone for assignment and remove them from the roster yet.
Maybin was excellent in a fourth-outfielder role for the Yankees in 2019. He batted a completely respectable .285/.364/.494 line through 82 games. Those numbers were boosted by a high batting average on balls in play (his BABP-adjusted batting average is a mere .234 mark) but his 11.2 percent walk rate would have been among the leaders on the 2019 Tigers club and he hit a career-high 11 home runs. According to wRC+, it added up to a 27 percent above average offensive performance. Added all together, he was playing at a 3.2 fWAR pace.
This will be Maybin’s third time playing for the Tigers. Originally a Detroit draft pick, taken tenth overall in 2005, he was able to make him major league debut two years later, but he was shipped off to Miami over the winter as part of a deal for a young Venezuelan infielder named Jose Miguel Cabrera Torres. He was resigned by the team in advance of the 2016 season, where he played an injury shorted season but endeared himself to fans with his hyper-energetic gameplay and joyous attitude.
The very day after the Chicago Cubs’ happy ending in the 2016 World Series, Maybin was traded to the Angels. He’s played in Houston, Seattle, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and New York in the three years that have elapsed. Now he’s coming home again.
The practical impact of this signing is Maybin’s near certainty to be the team’s right fielder for the 2020 season. The Tigers’ outfield situation looked like a bit of a mess entering spring training, with as many as ten players who had at least an outside shot at landing a job with the Tigers as a corner outfielder or a bench piece.
With Maybin is in the picture, that field of opportunity has narrowed considerably. One would imagine that in order to overturn Victor Reyes, Christin Stewart, and Travis Demeritte as the favorites for a left field or bench role, another player would have to do a tremendous amount in camp.