DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers have signed outfielder Cameron Maybin to a major-league contract, signalling his third stint with the team.
Jon Heyman, of MLB Network, reports the deal is for one year and $1.5 million. It could increase to $2.8 million based on bonuses, Heyman said.
The Tigers placed Michael Fulmer on the 60-day injured list to make room for Maybin on the 40-man roster.
Last season with the New York Yankees, Maybin enjoyed the best offensive season of his career. He hit .285 with a .364 on-base percentage, a .494 slugging percentage and a career-best .858 OPS. He hit 11 home runs and 17 doubles to go along with nine stolen cases. He walked 30 times compared to 72 strikeouts in 82 games.
Maybin finished 2014 with a 1.5 WAR. He will almost certainly be one of the Tigers’ starting outfielders on Opening Day, likely in right field while Christin Stewart mans left and JaCoby Jones patrols center.
“Cameron is a dynamic outfielder that we can rely on for solid play in both the field and at the plate,” Tigers General Manager Al Avila said. “His veteran presence will be an asset to our lineup and we’re excited to have him back with the organization.”
Maybin’s first stint with Tigers
Maybin was once the Tigers’ No. 1 overall prospect after the team drafted him with the No. 10 overall pick in the first round of the 2005 MLB draft.
Maybin made his debut with the Tigers two years later, playing in 24 games, including a memorable first-career home run against Roger Clemens in Yankee Stadium.
Dave Dombrowski shipped Maybin off to the Florida Marlins that off-season -- along with Andrew Miller, Mike Rabelo, Frankie De La Cruz, Burke Badenhop and Dallas Trahern -- in the deal that brought Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to Detroit.
Maybin played parts of three seasons with the Marlins before being traded to the San Diego Padres in 2010 for Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb. He spend four seasons with the Padres and then got traded to the Atlanta Braves for Craig Kimbrel and Melvin (B.J.) Upton in 2015.
Second stint with Tigers
The Tigers completed the circle in November 2015, when they traded Ian Krol and Gabe Speier to the Braves for Maybin.
The return to Detroit led to a career season for Maybin, as he posted an .801 OPS with 23 extra-base hits and 15 stolen bases while batting .315 and posting a .383 OBP.
But he wasn’t in Detroit for long. After one season, the Tigers traded Maybin to the Los Angeles Angels for Victor Alcantara.
Since the trade to the Angels, Maybin has bounced around between the Houston Astros, Miami Marlins, Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians and, finally, the Yankees. He was actually on the 2017 Astros team that won the World Series, going 1-for-3 in three games.
Maybin was purchased by the Yankees from Cleveland on April 25, 2019. It ended up being a great move, as he joined the rest of the Yankees’ lineup in what was an historic offensive season.
He appeared in five postseason games for the Yankees -- all three games of the ALDS against the Minnesota Twins and two of the games against the Astros in the ALCS. He went 2-for-6 in those appearances, hitting a home run and stealing two bases.
What it means for the Tigers
Obviously, this makes the Tigers a bit better for the upcoming season. Maybin isn’t one of the best outfielders from this free agent class, but he’s a fairly proven MLB player and a likely upgrade over either Victor Reyes or Travis Demeritte.
Maybin has already been traded for Cabrera, Willis, Kimbrel, Upton and several others throughout his career. It’s possible the Tigers could move him somewhere at the deadline to bring a prospect to the system, though it wouldn’t be a blockbuster.
Avila has made several moves this off-season to make the team better for 2020. After a disastrous 47-114 record last year -- by far the worst in baseball -- the Tigers should be able to field a more respectable lineup this season, thanks to the additions of Maybin, Jonathan Schoop, C.J. Cron and Austin Romine.
Will Detroit be a playoff contender? Absolutely not. But winning between 65 and 70 games seems entirely possible, and that’s a big jump from 47.