The Braves are in a good position. Yes, there are a lot of holes to fill, but I have no doubt that they will be filled, and with an increase in payroll, we as Braves fans should be very excited. However, I think 2022 might be the year in which the Braves finally make THAT trade. It very well could be a trade that gets criticized in the long run, but it should bring benefit for the here and now, and the here and now has never been so blatantly obvious.
THIS is the window. As of now, the Braves do not have a centerfielder. And while they have two players in Cristian Pache and Drew Waters that could prove capable, they didn’t tear the fence down last year in AAA, and I don’t foresee them being in the plans to begin the 2022 season. Therein lies the dilemma. The solution? We shall see.
At the deadline, the Braves made a “substantial” offer to the Pirates for their centerfielder, Bryan Reynolds, and while the deal didn’t come to fruition, it does feel as though the Braves showed their hand a bit. With the lack of development from both Pache and Waters, could the Braves revisit Reynolds? Absolutely. However, there’s another name, equally as juicy, that has come on the market.
For those not in the know, Cedric Mullins was one of the only highlights for a dismal Orioles team that went 52-110 in 2021, but what a year he had. As the Orioles everyday centerfielder, Mullins carried an .878 OPS with 30 HRs and 30 SBs. He was also in the 96th percentile in Outs Above Average, which is Statcast’s defensive metric. While the defense has always been there, it was the bat that was quite the surprise. Mullins had long been a switch hitter. However, in the 2020-21 offseason, he spent his time transitioning to hitting left-handed only, which is his natural positioning. The results speak for themselves, but this is what Mullins had to say about transitioning.
“The decision was mainly based off the numbers I was putting up throughout the minors and the time in the big leagues,” said Mullins. “That is something I brought up to (Brandon) Hyde and (Mike) Elias over the course of a few years, and I fully committed to it during this offseason. Kept in contact with them telling them how much I was working on it. What kind of different approaches I was using to get adjusted to seeing left on left. And the results showed today.”
And the reason why we’re talking about Cedric Mullins? Because Jon Heyman dropped this bomb.
Word has gotten out that the Orioles would listen on star CF Cedric Mullins, and teams are lining up to give it a shot knowing it’s a long shot. Asking price is understandably extremely high. All these teams (and more) could use a CF: Philly, Rangers, Astros, Giants, Mets, Yanks.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 26, 2021
So, what would it take to grab Cedric Mullins, who just so happens to be from Snellville, GA? A lot. Mullins is likely looking at a surplus value in the $70-80MM range and even more when you consider the lack of frontline centerfielders on the market. If Braves were to put in a serious offer, it would likely consist of 4-5 players from the following groups:
- One of Cristian Pache or Drew Waters
- One of William Contreras or Shea Langeliers
- One of Spencer Strider, Bryce Elder, or Freddy Tarnok
- One of Kyle Muller or Tucker Davidson
- One of Braves Lower Level Prospects
That’s a lot to give up, but here are my thoughts: If the package was Waters, Contreras, Tarnok, Davidson, and someone like Drew Lugbauer, there’s still a whole lot to like in the Braves farm. That immediately gives the Orioles guys to plug into their MLB roster, stash three at AAA, and help build their team back to compete in the toughest division in the game (for now). More to the point, flags fly forever and the Braves have the ammo to make a deal.