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Fact/Opinion: O’s Should Move Mullins for the Right Price

Craig Landefeld/GulfBird Sports
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While the millionaires and billionaires fight things out in a conference room, there obviously hasn’t been a lot to talk about this offseason. Let’s do another round of fact/opinion to discuss some old and new topics.

Fact: Cedric Mullins is coming off a career year. He finished top 10 in the MVP voting, won a silver slugger, was an All-Star, had a WAR over 5 and was overall one of the most productive players in all of MLB.

Opinion: The Marlins are reportedly looking for centerfielder help and have been connected to Ketel Marte. Miami is one of the rare teams that seems to be loaded with starting pitching and are looking to trade from that to nab a centerfielder. Mullins makes a lot of sense for them and if Mike Elias can get Max Meyer (a recent top 5 pick) and Pablo Lopez, that is a deal the Orioles should make.

I think you have to question just how good Mullins is going forward. I think he stays a 3+ WAR guy but will not be as good as he was in 2021. That makes him an above-average centerfielder and a valuable player, especially while he isn’t making much money. But the upside of Meyer and Lopez, to go along with the idea that we need pitching, is more enticing to me and I think this deal puts us closer to returning to contention. Plus, the Orioles have organizational depth in the OF, which they really don’t have in terms of starting pitching. Most of the current starters they have are likely to be relievers, if anything.

Fact: Baseball America just released their top 100 prospect list and the Orioles placed five players on it. Adley Rutschman leads the way at #1.

Opinion: Rutschman is a great prospect and we are very fortunate to have him, but Bobby Witt Jr. should be #1 (maybe Julio Rodriguez should be above Adley too). Witt is much younger, plays just as key a position and just put up a monster season in the minors playing at levels that he was very young for. This isn’t a slight on Adley as much as it is a recognition of Witt and how good he is. According to BA, the race between Adley, Witt and Rodriguez is very tight for that top spot.

Fact: One name that didn’t appear on the BA top 100 is Coby Mayo. Mayo had a .981 OPS in Delmarva last year. He has a cannon arm, huge power and will take a walk. He will strikeout but he also has a high exit velocity and still hit for a good average.

Opinion: There is some talk that his lack of agility may prevent him from staying at third base, but that is to be determined. That being said, I have him as the O’s third best prospect. His upside is huge and if he can stay at third, he may have the highest upside of anyone in the organization, including Adley. I think he is a top 75 prospect by midseason.

[Related: O’s Top 33 Prospects Headed Into 2022 – #1-11]

Fact: D.L. Hall stayed on the BA list despite pitching only 31 innings in 2021, spending much of the year on the IL. He came in at #52 in the rankings. Geoff Pontes of BA tweeted out that Hall was the only pitcher in the top 100 that had a whiff rate of 40% or higher on four different pitches. That’s an incredible stat.

Opinion: Hall is arguably the key player in the team’s rebuild. He actually has more upside than Grayson Rodriguez but health and availability are huge concerns. Command has also been an issue in the past. Combine all of that and while he may have a higher ceiling than Rodriguez, he also has a lower floor and is much more volatile overall. But if he can stay healthy and get to that potential, or close to it, Baltimore could have the best 1-2 punch in baseball.

Fact: The Orioles are hosting a mini camp with many of their top MiLB prospects attending.

Opinion: The biggest news out of this camp is that Heston Kjerstad is going to be there and seems like he is a full go. I am not sure where the O’s start Kjerstad this year. The talk is they will invite him to MLB spring training and if that happens, he should get enough “getting his feet wet” time that they should be able to start him at Aberdeen as opposed to Delmarva. My hope is that he ends the year in Bowie and if he can have a strong year, he regains his legit prospect status and gives the O’s another weapon that should be ready for the majors sometime in 2023.

Fact: Last week, the Orioles announced changes to move back the left field wall, as well as raise it higher. Elias stated that part of the reason for doing this is because of the amount of homers flying out of the park and how LF at OPACY was too shallow compared to the rest of MLB stadiums. While Elias felt Camden Yards would still be a hitter’s park, his hope was that this would make it more neutral and that it will help draw free agent pitchers.

Opinion: I love this move. I don’t get the angst behind it among some fans. It should have happened a while ago. When the Orioles have done improvements to the stadium, when have changes ever been for the worse? They aren’t going to ruin the look of the park. People worrying about the angle by the bullpen or worrying about players safety are misguided. The Orioles aren’t going to make any change that could hurt players and other stadiums have angles like this and players aren’t dropping like flies at those places. I am not sure it will help draw free agent pitchers like Elias seems to think it will but it can’t hurt. We probably need to wait to see a few year’s worth of data before we know the impact of this but one thing to keep in mind is that fewer homers could also lead to more extra base hits, so we may not see a big overall difference in runs scored.

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