LAKELAND, Fla. — The Tigers entered the 2017 campaign with few starting spots up for grabs. The team’s roster remains largely unchanged from a year ago, and for the most part, those veterans will return to the roles they played last year.
The big exception to that rule lies in the middle of the outfield. When the Tigers traded centerfielder Cameron Maybin to the Los Angeles Dodgers, they did little to replace the star. Now, a position battle rages at Joker Marchant Stadium.
Three men could potentially win the starting role.
First is Tyler Collins, a 26 year old with no options remaining on his contract.
Second is JaCoby Jones, who, at 24, still has three options remaining.
Then, there is Mikie Mahtook, who the team acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in January. The 27 year old has an option remaining.
Finally, there is Anthony Gose, a 26 year old with no options remaining. After the Tigers traded for Mahtook, they designated Gose for assignment. He cleared waivers and is still with the organization.
Since games have just begun in the Grapefruit League, it is far too early to tell who will earn the job. Mahtook seems like a safe bet, though, since the team traded for him and cut another centerfielder just to make room for him.
Jones has too many options left, making him an easy cut. That leaves Collins, who could also vie for the job.
In the end, both players may earn the nod, forming a platoon in the outfield.