ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Cameron Maybin will need some time to get used to playing left field for the Los Angeles Angels after a big league career spent in center.
Maybin thinks he’ll require no time at all to get comfortable hitting in front of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.
The Angels acquired the 29-year-old outfielder from the Detroit Tigers on Thursday in a trade for right-hander Victor Alcantara. Los Angeles also announced it will exercise Maybin’s $9 million contract option for 2017.
Maybin batted a career-best .315 with four homers, 43 RBIs and 15 stolen bases in 94 games for the Tigers. Despite a late start due to a broken wrist from getting hit by a pitch in spring training, he also hit .380 with runners in scoring position, one of the majors’ best marks.
After Maybin learned he had been traded for the fifth time in less than nine years, he immediately warmed to the idea of hitting a lineup featuring two of the game’s top sluggers.
"Being on this team, with the way they play baseball and constantly have guys moving, whether it’s hit-and-run or stealing bases or bunting, I think I fit in with this style of play really well," Maybin said. "I’m looking forward to playing for Mike Scioscia. I’ve enjoyed watching how he manages from afar. I look forward to being part of that poetry in motion."
Maybin will have to make two moves with this trade, however: Along with relocation to Orange County, he’ll have to slide over to left field.
Maybin primarily has played center for his entire career, but general manager Billy Eppler expects Maybin to be the Angels’ everyday left fielder alongside Trout and right fielder Kole Calhoun. Maybin hasn’t played in left since a five-game stint during his first big league season in 2007 with Detroit.
"I am attached to (center), but anybody who’s been around me (knows) I always put the team first," Maybin said. "With the athletic ability I’ve been given, I think I can probably go out there and be one of the best left fielders in the game. … I look forward to playing left field alongside Mike Trout. You put two center fielders out there, I think I’ll be able to make his job a lot easier, and vice versa."
The 23-year-old Alcantara has spent five years in the Angels’ minor league system. He went 3-7 with a 4.30 ERA in 29 appearances for Double-A Arkansas last season, yet the alarmingly shallow depth of the Angels’ farm system made him one of their better prospects.
The Angels got minimal production out of left field in 2016, the team’s worst season since 1999. Los Angeles finished fourth in the AL West at 74-88, a steep decline from the 2014 team that won 98 games with the best record in baseball.
Eppler swung the first trade of the baseball offseason to shore up a position of seemingly perpetual need for Los Angeles. While an MVP candidate and an above-average major leaguer occupy the other two outfield spots at the Big A, left field has been a problem in recent years.
The Angels also have a dismaying recent history of acquiring veterans who underperformed once they joined the outfield, including Josh Hamilton, Gary Matthews Jr., Vernon Wells, Matt Joyce, Daniel Nava and Craig Gentry.
Eppler was particularly interested in Maybin after getting an endorsement from Bud Black, Maybin’s manager in San Diego and Eppler’s current special assistant.
"This was something that clearly was an objective of ours heading into the winter," Eppler said. "We’ve been able to acquire a guy that we are happy to put in left field and give him an opportunity to play every day."
The Tigers also exercised their $6 million option for 2017 on closer Francisco Rodriguez, who finished second in the AL with 44 saves in a remarkable season for the former Angels right-hander known as "K-Rod." The option contained a $2 million buyout.