Detroit Tigers: Can Mike Gerber or Christin Stewart provide outfield help in 2018?

DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 23: Nicholas Castellanos
DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 23: Nicholas Castellanos /
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(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Tigers have a pair of left-handed hitting prospects, who may not necessarily be too far away from getting big-league opportunities.

In 2017, the Detroit Tigers went 64-98, which tied the San Francisco Giants for the worst record in Major League Baseball. Over the course of last summer, the Tigers ended up trading many of their veteran players, including, eventually, longtime ace Justin Verlander. Now, Brad Ausmus is out as manager, and Ron Gardenhire is in, with much-needed change.

The Tigers have now turned the page and begun a new era. Going into the 2018 season, it appears that many young players will be given opportunities to prove themselves. Jeimer Candelario, who was acquired from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Justin Wilson and Alex Avila, was very impressive through 27 games with the Tigers at the end of last season. In 2018, it appears that he will have a chance to show that he can be the long-term answer at the hot corner.

It also appears quite possible that a change could occur at shortstop or second base. It has been rumored that at least one of Jose Iglesias or Ian Kinsler could be on the move this offseason.

The departure of Iglesias and/or Kinsler could open the door for Dixon Machado or Dawel Lugo. Machado, a natural shortstop, performed well in a utility role for the Tigers last season. Lugo, who was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the J.D. Martinez deal, has played some second, third and shortstop in the minor leagues. He played mostly third base in the minors last year, however.

Current Outfield Alignment

It will also be interesting to see what might happen in regards to the Tigers’ outfield situation. At this point, going into next season, it would appear that Detroit’s outfield alignment would consist of Mikie Mahtook in left field, JaCoby Jones in center and Nicholas Castellanos in right field.

Mahtook performed well enough last season to deserve an everyday role in 2018. Castellanos was one of the Tigers’ best offensive players last year, though questions still remain about his defense in right. Though Jones has an extraordinary amount of raw talent, he has struggled at the plate so far in his big-league career. Detroit may need a backup plan in center.

The Tigers will need to find a fourth outfielder as well. Detroit should be able to find an affordable reserve outfielder on the free agent market this winter. If the Tigers choose to avoid the free agent market, they could also promote from within.

Detroit currently has a couple of homegrown, left-handed hitting outfield prospects, both of whom have been making quite a bit of noise in the minor leagues in recent seasons.