Cedric Mullins’ struggles have pushed the Orioles to their breaking point with him

Orioles outfielder Cedric Mullins looks awful right now.
Apr 28, 2024; Baltimore, Maryland, USA;  Baltimore Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins (31)
Apr 28, 2024; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins (31) / James A. Pittman-USA TODAY Sports

You hate to even be discussing this after a 9-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Friday night, but it's a topic Baltimore Orioles fans cannot avoid.

Despite all the things that have gone right for the Orioles this year, Cedric Mullins' performance is weighing them down. The former All-Star center fielder is off to a dismal start and fans in Baltimore are starting to ask questions about what his future looks like.

Mullins is mired in a big time slump at the moment. He has just seven hits in his last 68 plate appearances. Just two of those hits have gone for extra bases and his .583 OPS is worst among all Orioles with regular playing time.

A massive part of this conversation is that the Orioles have a number of prospects, including Heston Kjerstad tearing up Triple-A. Kjerstad is hitting .347/.434/.747 with strong plate discipline in Norfolk. While the 25-year-old doesn't have the chops to handle center field defensively, he should fit fine in one of the corner spots.

With Mullins entrenched in the everyday lineup and Austin Hays returning from the IL, the only way the Orioles could give consistent playing time to Kjerstad would be to bench or trade Mullins. In Mullins' absence, Colton Cowser could shift to center field most days and Hays would likely serve as the fourth outfielder. Just on Friday, the O's went with an outfield of Cowser (CF), Ryan O'Hearn (RF) and Kyle Stowers (LF) with Mullins on the bench.

However, with the way he's playing, Mullins' trade value is at its lowest possible point. So even if the Orioles were thinking about moving him, the return might not be enough for Mike Elias to consider pulling the trigger.

The Orioles need to make big changes with struggling Cedric Mullins

Unfortunately, Mullins hasn't been an elite hitter since 2021. He put up strong defense in center field in 2022 but he looked like he was starting to fall off the cliff last year, and this year has been abysmal. He's currently striking out at the highest rate of his career, and he's neither walking nor hitting enough to utilize his speed on the base paths.

At this rate, Mullins' career in Baltimore might be in jeopardy. Orioles fans desperately don't want this situation to get ugly, as they're in the middle of a tight race with the Yankees, fighting for first place in the AL East, and they need every win they can get.

It's going to be a battle for the rest of the summer and the O's can't afford to have Mullins playing every day if he's going to be dragging them down and failing to contribute. Some Orioles fans might not want to hear it, but the reality is that Mullins' days in Baltimore (at least as a starter_ are likely numbered.