Detroit Tigers Add Mikie Mahtook in Trade

The Detroit Tigers added outfielder Mikie Mahtook in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays yesterday, but will he be a part of their opening day squad?

All winter long the Detroit Tigers have been said to be looking to unload a contract or two, with outfielder J.D. Martinez being the most likely trade candidate with only one year left until he hits free agency. Well, on Wednesday the Tigers added another name to the outfield kerfuffle instead of removing one.

The Tigers adding Mahtook is likely either one of one things: First, it could be the precursor to Martinez actually being dealt in the coming days. The second option is that the Detroit front office has taken Justin Verlander‘s words to heart and they are trying to do right by him. Well that, or they have tried moving players but didn’t receive any real offers so they’re standing pat for the most part and Mahtook is a low-cost addition with some upside.

To make room for Mahtook on the 40-man roster, the Detroit Tigers designated Anthony Gose for assignment. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors discusses in this piece that Mahtook will be competing for a spot this spring with Tyler “Middle Finger” Collins and Mahtook’s college teammate, JaCoby Jones. Collins is out of options while Mahtook still has one remaining.

The big question concerning Mahtook is whether or not he’ll be able to hit in the big leagues. In his first taste of Tampa life in 2015 he clubbed nine homers in just 115 plate appearances, which was three shy of his career high of 12 back in a full season of Triple-A in 2014. That performance at the big league level a couple of years ago is the outlier on his resume, so the power surge he showed is not something Tigers fans should be looking for.

The stat line that he reminds me of is someone like Jake Marisnick with a little more ability at the plate, and a little worse arm in the outfield. Marisnick has better base running skills, but Mahtook has more range in the outfield. According to the numbers, they look similar enough.

If that is in fact the kind of player that the Tigers end up getting out of this trade with Tampa, then they should be fairly happy. All they’re sending back to the Rays is a player to be named later, or cash, so the cost of acquisition is certainly not that high for someone that should be able to help improve the team’s defense in center.

He’s going to strike out a bit, at least at first, but the Tigers offer something that the Rays don’t necessarily have, and that’s protection for Mahtook up and down the lineup. If he can crack the 25-man roster, he’ll be an interesting player to keep an eye on as the season goes along.

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