Trading for Orioles’ OF Cedric Mullins
This might be the one where the Tigers have to get the most creative. The Baltimore Orioles have been the biggest surprise in baseball this season, currently sitting at 70-61 and just a game and a half back of the final wild card spot in the American League. They’ve done this despite trading closer Jorge Lopez and their best hitter—and the heart and soul of their team—Trey Mancini, at the trade deadline.
They’ve been led by former top prospect and No. 1 overall pick catcher Adley Rutschman. They’ve also called up other top prospects like Gunnar Henderson to help them make a push for the playoffs. They have a very young team with several emerging hitters.
What they don’t have is a lot of pitching depth. Top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez gut hurt earlier this season and will miss the rest of the year. Their starting rotation is being glued together with a bunch of journeyman and a few prospects. Somehow, they’ve held up to this point.
But that won’t cut it in the long term. Baltimore will need to find some real pitching solutions this offseason. GM Mike Elias has already come out and said that they plan on making significant additions to the payroll, so that’s a good start since there will be plenty of arms available on the free agent market.
But why not swing a trade to acquire a young, controllable arm—perhaps from a team that has a surplus of pitching? They just may have to trade one of their better players.
Mullins was an All-Star last season when he slashed .291/.360/.518. He also put up a 30/30 season and had an fWAR of 6.0. He ditched switch-hitting and started batting left-handed only, and it paid off for him. He’s taken a bit of a step back this season, but his fWAR of 2.9 would be more than double the Tigers’ highest WAR player.
Mullins still has three years of control left, so he won’t be cheap. Giving up Manning may seem dumbfounding considering how good he’s been as of late, but their other starting pitching options to be traded (Mize and Skubal) are both injured and out long term. Considering that Baltimore wants to compete next year, the Tigers will have to pay up to get them to part with Mullins.
Reese Olson gets traded again in this scenario. Hopefully this is where he’d catch on and find some fastball command. Graham was just drafted in the second round this year by Detroit and is ranked No. 5 in the Tigers farm system by MLB Pipeline, though that seems a bit high.
This is a hefty price, but if the Detroit Tigers want to have a better offense next season, this is what they’ll have to pay.