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.
The Cincinnati Reds have signed outfielder Nicholas Castellanos to a multi-year deal. That’s the report from C. Trent Rosecrans and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Jon Morosi of MLB.com was the first to report the Reds as frontrunners. The deal is pending a physical. UPDATE: The deal is four years. Financial terms have yet to be reported.
With Castellanos in the fold the Reds are going to have a lot of outfielders when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton already on the roster. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps taking over short from Freddy Galvis, who could be dealt. Alternatively, the Reds could trade from their newfound outfield surplus.
Castellanos, however, will have left field to himself. While he’s shaky at best with the glove, he had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power.
Now that he’ll be playing in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.