Adam Jones
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Cedric Mullins to take over center field duties for Orioles

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Top prospect Cedric Mullins is the Orioles’ new center fielder, the team announced Friday. Mullins was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk earlier in the day and is making his major debut during the Orioles’ series opener against the Red Sox, while the club’s established center fielder, Adam Jones, shifts over to his new spot in right field.

Mullins, 23, came in at no. 9 in the Orioles’ system during MLB Pipeline’s midseason prospect rankings this year. His speed and defensive ability has made him a covetable asset in the outfield, and his combined .288/.346/.465 batting line, 11 home runs, and 21 stolen bases (in 22 chances) at Double-A and Triple-A have made him an equal threat in the lineup.

It’s an amicable passing of the torch for veteran outfielder and four-time Gold Glover Jones, whose fWAR dipped to a career-worst 0.4 mark in 2018 even as he slashed .281/.310/.430 with 12 homers and a .740 OPS for the club. Per MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli, Jones is expected to be permanently stationed at the right field corner after spending over a decade in center field, though the team isn’t pushing him to scale back his playing time by any means — according to comments made by skipper Buck Showalter, he’ll continue to play “as long as he wants to.”

Jones, for his part, doesn’t appear rattled by the change.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.