Our final installment of hypothetical blockbuster trades is here, wrapping up with the AL East. Like the NL East, nearly every team is expected to compete in this division, making it more challenging to complete a trade. The Rays, Yankees, and Red Sox all made the postseason last season, and the Blue Jays finished just behind them. You can bet it will be a bloodbath again in 2022 amongst those teams, but at least the Orioles will be open for business once the lockout ends.
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After three well below average years in the majors, Mullins broke out in a big way for the Orioles, joining the 30/30 club (30 homers and 30 stolen bases) and recording an .878 OPS while playing stellar defense in centerfield. He was an All-Star and finished in the top ten of the AL MVP race. For all of those reasons, teams should be interested in prying him away from Baltimore, but the Braves, in particular, should have their eyes on Mullins. He would fill a gaping hole in the middle of their outfield and is under affordable control for four more seasons. That’s exactly the kind of player Alex Anthopoulos would like to add, but it’s also why he will cost an arm and a leg in terms of prospects.
With four years of team control, the Orioles don’t have to budge on a deal. They can set their asking price and wait until someone meets it or decide not to trade him at all. Because of that, the Braves will have to go big if they want to acquire Mullins. Any conversations will likely begin with Michael Harris, who has the potential to be a Mullins-esque player in a few years down the road. The Braves will also probably have to include one of Cristian Pache or Drew Waters and a pitcher or two. It’s a lot, but for four years of an All-Star centerfielder, it very well may be worth it.
In the last two full seasons (2019, 2021), Means has been as steady as they come, recording a 3.61 combined ERA over 300+ innings. Because of that, several teams have contacted the Orioles regarding his availability, but Baltimore has not seemed too interested in moving him. However, as he continues to get closer to unrestricted free agency, the Orioles have to consider trading him, and with three years remaining on his contract, they could still fetch quite a return.
Mancini is another player the Orioles have opted to retain through their rebuild, and a lot of it has to do with his story and reputation in the clubhouse and among the fan base. It’s very possible they are not interested in trading him either, but with just one year left on his contract, it may be time for them to find him a new home and get what they can if they don’t plan on re-signing him. Mancini would add some more power to the Braves lineup and could play left field or DH at times.
I’m not sure how much I like this deal for the Braves, but that’s probably because I’m higher on Waters than most. I still think he has the potential to be an All-Star caliber outfielder. Muller and Elder could also be rotation pieces in the not-so-distant future. With that being said, if Atlanta wanted to acquire Means and Mancini, it would probably take a haul like this, or perhaps even more. That’s the cost of controllable starting pitching, but I think the Braves could find a better deal with someone else.