Tigers traded away Cameron Maybin on 12/4/2007 and reacquired him on 11/20/2015. In between they used 16 different starting center fielders.— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) November 20, 2015
Of course, that trade turned out pretty well for the Tigers: They acquired Miguel Cabrera from the Marlins in a deal centered around Maybin and Andrew Miller, then two of the top prospects in the game.
Neither did anything for the Marlins and Maybin eventually found his way to San Diego, where he had a couple of good seasons and then some injuries, and then to Atlanta, where he got his career back on track in 2015, hitting .267/.327/.370 with 10 home runs and 23 steals.
His season wasn't all that valuable though. He had just 30 extra-base hits in 505 at-bats and an adjusted OPS that was below the league average. Baseball-Reference rated him as worth only 0.6 WAR, barely above replacement level. FanGraphs valued him at 1.0 WAR. His defensive metrics weren't good, with -16 Defensive Runs Saved, second-lowest among center fielders to only Angel Pagan of the Giants. Maybin has rated as a plus defender in the past, so maybe the numbers are off for 2015, or maybe he's lost a step or two, given his age and injuries.
Either way, this isn't the kind of trade that is going to turn the Tigers into playoff contenders. Really, this deal and the deal to acquire Francisco Rodriguez are just patchwork kind of trades, Rodriguez replacing Joakim Soria, and Maybin an attempt fill a lineup position that Yoenis Cespedes filled for most of 2015.
"Cameron Maybin is a good outfielder with plenty of experience in center field. He is coming off of a solid offensive season in 2015 and brings speed and athleticism to our club," GM Al Avila said, adding that Maybin's role would be determined in spring training. So that means a potential center-field battle with Anthony Gose, who was hitting .338 through May 27, but hit just .219/.298/.324 the rest of the way. Or maybe Maybin ends up in left field, where the Tigers currently have Tyler Collins.
For the Braves, it doesn't matter that they don't really have a center fielder to replace Maybin, unless you consider the player formerly known as Michael Bourn. It's all about dumping the $8 million he's owed for 2016 (with a $9 million team option for 2017). The contract is fair, but considering Maybin's injury history, the Braves figured they may as well get something for him. And if it makes the team worse? Who cares, the Braves apparently are aiming to have the worst record in baseball in 2016.
Krol is hard-throwing lefty reliever who can occasionally hit the broad side of a barn, originally acquired from the Nationals in the ill-advised Doug Fister trade. In 88 career innings, he's allowed 101 hits, 15 home runs and 38 walks. He's had better success throwing strikes in the minors, so I guess you never know. Considering the state of the Tigers' bullpen, the fact that they traded Krol suggests they don't exactly believe he'll put it together.
Speier is a 20-year-old who pitched 44 innings in the Midwest. He originally was a 19th-round pick by the Red Sox out of high school and is not listed among MLB.com's top 30 Tigers prospects.
For the Braves, the question is: Who's next? The Shelby Miller trade rumors already have been out there. They'd love to get rid of Bourn and Nick Swisher, but good luck. The big question: Will they trade Freddie Freeman? I suspect not, but at this point, why not?