2022 Cleveland Guardians trade targets: OF Cedric Mullins and 1B/OF Trey Mancini

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - SEPTEMBER 30: Cedric Mullins #31 of the Baltimore Orioles bats against the Boston Red Sox at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 30, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - SEPTEMBER 30: Cedric Mullins #31 of the Baltimore Orioles bats against the Boston Red Sox at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 30, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /
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BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – SEPTEMBER 30: Cedric Mullins #31 of the Baltimore Orioles bats against the Boston Red Sox at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 30, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – SEPTEMBER 30: Cedric Mullins #31 of the Baltimore Orioles bats against the Boston Red Sox at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 30, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

It’s no secret that the Baltimore Orioles are years away from being competitive, so it’s with this line of thinking we propose to steal away two of their everyday position players, specifically OF Cedric Mullins and/or 1B/OF Trey Mancini.

Both of these trade targets would augment and lengthen the Guardians lineup and provide at least some level of certainty in outfield depth. Myles Straw has center field locked down, but everything else (at least at this time of posting) is still very much up in the air when it comes to what the outfield will look like in 2022.

Guardians trade target: OF Cedric Mullins

Mullins just turned 27 this past October and has four years of team control. He’s also coming off a season that saw him hit 37 doubles, 30 home runs, and swipe 30 bags while slashing .291/.360/.581. Oh yeah, and his wRC+ was 136. That would essentially be like adding another Jose Ramirez!

On the flip side of this, Mullins has only put up those numbers for one season, so is this a case of being a late bloomer, having a career season, or something in between? I’d be remiss it I didn’t note that the Guardians did inquire on Mullins before the trade deadline this past season, so the front office must view this output as more in the vein of things to expect moving forward.

And even if his numbers dip to ~20-25 across the board, that’s still really good and would provide some solid offensive output the team hasn’t had from an outfield spot in a long while.

Guardians trade target: 1B/OF Trey Mancini

On the opposite side of the coin, Mancini is about to turn 30 in March and only has one year of control left. There’s also the sentimental value he holds with Baltimore fans. He sat the 2020 season after he was diagnosed with colon cancer, then came back in 2021, returned to form, and won AL Comeback Player of the Year when he hit 33 doubles, 21 home runs, 71 RBIs and slashed .255/.326/.432 with a wRC+ of 105.

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – SEPTEMBER 11: Trey Mancini #16 of the Baltimore Orioles runs to first base against the Toronto Blue Jays during game two of a doubleheader at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 11, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – SEPTEMBER 11: Trey Mancini #16 of the Baltimore Orioles runs to first base against the Toronto Blue Jays during game two of a doubleheader at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 11, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /

Mancini hasn’t played the outfield since 2019, but it could be possible that he platoons in right field with Oscar Mercado or Bradley Zimmer, or even the likes of Steven Kwan, Oscar Gonzalez, or Richie Palacios (should one of these last three make the team). Mancini could also spell Bobby Bradley from time to time at first base. The man would certainly bring positional versatility and a veteran presence with him, there’s no arguing that.

Given the season that Mullins is coming off of, the asking price the Orioles can demand is quite high. However, the good news is that the Guardians have an abundance of middle infield depth they can use to swing a trade and lighten their 40-man roster crunch.

A few other things to consider before we dive into the proposed trade:

  • The Orioles are likely two to three years away from any sort of relevancy
  • Highly rated prospects would likely be more enticing in a package to Baltimore
  • The Guardians will again have a number of young players to protect next year before the Rule 5 draft, making a trade where the club gives up more (i.e. 4-for-2) an ideal scenario
  • Team control rightfully remains a high priority in any players coming back to Cleveland

Any mock trade isn’t an exact science but by using Baseball Trade Values, we can at least begin to form the basis for a potential trade centered on Cedric Mullins and getting the Orioles to throw in Trey Mancini.

The Proposed Trade

  • Guardians trade SS Gabriel Arias, 1B/3B Nolan Jones, 2B Ernie Clement, and RHP Zach Plesac
  • Orioles trade OF Cedric Mullins, 1B/OF Trey Mancini

On the surface, this may seem like a lot to send to Baltimore in a trade, but in any trade where the Guardians are potentially landing the likes of Mullins, Bryan Reynolds, Ketel Marte, etc., a number of prospects are likely going to be shipped out.

Arias is currently the fourth-rated prospect in the Guardians system according to MLB.com, while Jones is the third-rated prospect. However, both find themselves in interesting spots within the constructs of the current roster situation. For Arias, he’s one of 1,400 middle infielders the organization seems to have, and Amed Rosario looks to be the everyday shortstop right now, leaving only second base as an option for Arias (with top prospect Tyler Freeman already waiting in the wings).

Meanwhile, Nolan Jones is a third baseman by trade, and has shifted to learning first base and the outfield in an attempt to find himself a position on the major-league roster.

What I’m trying to say is that maybe it’s time to punt on both of these guys. The Guardians have very exciting prospects at these positions (including Jhonkensy Noel, Tyler Freeman, Brayan Rocchio, Jose Tena, Andrés Giménez, and George Valera) where they can afford to trade away such talent and not mortgage the future. Plus, it should go without saying that Baltimore is going to want something of significant value back in any deal.

As for Plesac and Clement’s inclusion in the deal, it’s quite simple: Baltimore needs pitching and would likely need some level of MLB-ready talent as well. Clement seems like he’s already buried on this Guardians depth chart and destined for a super utility role, while Plesac has shown flashes of being a front-end/middle-of-the rotation-type pitcher. Again, the Guardians have plenty in-house candidates to replace both.

By building up the minor-league pipeline the past few years, via trade and improved drafting, the Guardians find themselves in a very enviable position, and the time to strike is upon us. I’m sure some fans will want to hoard all of the prospects because of some imaginable fear, but I’ll remind them you can only play nine guys at a time. Let’s use what we can to substantially improve our odds at competing not only for the division but for a deep playoff run and possibly the American League.

Anything can happen once you get into the playoffs, but you need to get their first.