Phillies get a second chance to add huge outfield talent

Sep 28, 2021; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins (31) during the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 28, 2021; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins (31) during the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports /
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Starling Marte signing with the New York Mets instead of the Philadelphia Phillies was a huge blow, no way around it.

Instead of stealing bases for the Phils, he’ll be swiping bags from them. And the two teams face off 19 teams each season, giving Marte plenty of opportunities to remind the Phillies of what could have been.

Of course, numerous teams are looking for a centerfielder, and Marte was the only true one on the market. In the NL East alone, the Mets, Phillies, and Marlins were each vying for the speedster.

Before the Mets nabbed him, it felt like Marte was the only solution to the Phillies’ outfield problems, but now, there’s a new option, and arguably, one with more upside. The Baltimore Orioles are reportedly ready to listen to trade proposals for All-Star centerfielder Cedric Mullins.

Since the Phillies couldn’t sign Starling Marte, they need to trade for Cedric Mullins

One of the reasons Mullins wasn’t a big name before this year is that he was making his way as a switch-hitter. He picked a side this year (lefty), and as a result, cemented himself as a top outfield talent. Now, the 26-year-old is coming off his first All-Star season, in which he also earned Silver Slugger honors by hitting .291/.360/.518 with a .878 OPS, all new career-highs by far.

Mullins debuted in 2018 but never played more than 48 games in a season before 2021. Over 159 games this season, Mullins hit 30 home runs and stole 30 bases, becoming the first Oriole in MLB history to join the 30/30 club (unless you count St. Louis Browns outfielder Ken Williams, who became the first 30/30 player ever in 1922).

On the 2021 MLB leaderboards, Mullins ranked eighth overall in offensive WAR (5.8) and total bases (312), ninth in hits (175), seventh in runs created (119). His 30 stolen bases tied for fourth overall, and he was one of only six players to swipe 30+ bags this season. He was also faster than Marte this season, ranking fourth over in power-speed, while Marte didn’t crack the top ten, and outdid him in putouts, 389 to 280.

Mullins has a lifetime .333/.400/.667 slash line and 1.067 OPS over three games at Citizens Bank Park. He also has strong numbers against the Phillies’ division-rival New York Mets and Washington Nationals. The sample sizes are small, but noteworthy considering he’s spent his entire career in the American League and has only played 274 career games:

Mets (10 games): .390/.432/.561, .993 OPS, 5 doubles, 1 triple, 3 RBI, 5 runs
Nationals (9 games): .308/.308/.385, .692 OPS, two doubles, 3 runs

Among MLB centerfielders, Mullins appeared in the second-most games (impressive for his first full season), was one of only two CFs to log 1,200+ innings, ranked first in defensive chances and putouts, and tied for third in assists. He led the position with six errors, but that’s not too concerning for his first full season.

At 26 years old, Mullins has a lot more baseball ahead of him than the 32-year-old Marte. Down the road, acquiring him could turn out even better for the Phillies.

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