Literally the first day after the MLB season ended, the Angels have gone to work in the trade market. The Angels acquired center fielder Cameron Maybin in exchange for right handed pitcher Victor Alcantar. In the process, the Angels exercised Maybin’s 9 million dollar 2017 club option . The trade market didn’t look like a viable option for the Angels heading into the offseason due to the depleted farm system so this move is already a surprise on that notion alone. Maybin already looks like a nice improvement over any of the left fielders used by the Angels the last 2 years, even if he himself is not a great player.
Maybin has had an interesting career to date. Drafted 10th overall in the 2005 draft, expectations were through the roof for Maybin, who was one of the main pieces sent to the Marlins from Detroit in the Miguel Cabrera trade. It took years for Maybin to find his groove in the majors, as he broke out in the 2011 season. Between 2011-2012, the center fielder accumulated 6.5 WAR for the San Diego Padres, which landed him a nice 5 year 25 million dollar deal. He then completely tanked for a 3 year span, where he couldn’t stay healthy and wasn’t effective when he was healthy. 2015 was a bounce back year for Maybin with the Atlanta Braves, who later in the season flipped him back to the Tigers, the team that drafted him. Between 2015-2016, Maybin posted a .287/.350/.390 line, good for a 104 wRC+, while seeing a lot of his defensive value get sapped. 2016 was an especially strong season as Maybin slashed .315/.383/.418 and racked up 2.0 fWAR but was limited to 93 games due to injury.
Maybin is a fascinating player now and looks like he’s maybe switched from a defensive player to offensive player like many players do later in their careers. Defensive metrics hated Maybin the past 2 years in center field, which was not the case when he was considered an elite defender from 2011-2012. A move to left field will certainly help relieve some of these issues and gives the Angels a formidable outfield defense along with Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun. Maybin is still running the bases well, as he stole 15 bags in 2016, and Fangraphs base running metrics still like his work on the bases. Offensively, Maybin has transformed his skill set as he’s now making more contract, walking more and hitting more line drives, which has led to a BABIP increase and increase in his batting line.
The Angels send right handed “starter” Victor Alcantara to Detroit in the deal. Alcantara was viewed as a top 10 guy in the Angels system due to his high octane fastball coupled with a wipeout slider. While he was used as a starter in his minor league career with the Angels, he was not seeing effective(4.60 ERA and 1.78 K/BB ratio in 503.1 innings). It’s been clear for a while that Alcantara is not a starter and the Angels finally gave him some bullpen time in 2016 for part of the season, without much success. At 23 years old and not having seen success past A ball, there seemed to be a little patience lost with the Angels. A full time move to the bullpen could help him clean up some things and focus on full maximizing his potential. As mentioned above, Alcantara has a great upper 90’s fastball with movement and his slider can be a true swing and miss weapon when it’s on. Lack of command has plagued him to date but the Tigers are getting a nice arm to work with.
This was a bit of an unexpected move for the Angels but it’s one that makes sense for the Angels. The team was going to add a left fielder of some type for 2017, without a doubt, and Maybin presents the type of player Eppler has targeted so far. Maybin could bring some on base skills, speed and solid corner outfield defense to a left field position that has been a barren wasteland in Anaheim. Taylor Blake Ward of Scout.com reported that Eppler plans to add another outfielder, or 2, to compliment the outfield unit, but Maybin is viewed as the primary left fielder for 2017. This is a nice low risk move for the Angels that doesn’t add significant payroll and gives the Angels left field production some potential life for next year. Now, the Angels will have approximately 25-30ish million dollars to spend to fix some holes around the rest of the roster. This is a pretty solid start to what might be a busy Angels offseason.