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Hittin’ Season #533: Hey Phillies, find a way to get Bryan Reynolds!

He didn’t catch this one, but he usually catches all of them.

Cincinnati Reds v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Have you heard? The Phillies need a center fielder.

To the astonishment and shock of Phils fans everywhere, Mickey Moniak, Adam Haseley and Roman Quinn did not hold down the job last year, and while Odubel Herrera was slightly better, he’s clearly wasn’t the answer either.

Here’s the problem. There is no good answer.

There was one good center fielder in free agency, Starling Marte, and he was snapped up by New York Mets before the lockout. Kris Bryant is out there and can play center, but that’s not a long-term solution. Herrera is probably the best non-Bryant free agent left, so the Phils are left to consider trade options like Tampa’s Kevin Kiermaier or Manuel Margot, Oakland’s Ramon Laureano or Milwaukee’s Matt Cain. All are players who are worth 2-3 wins above replacement, a.k.a., wins above Phillies prospects, although all have major deficiencies to be concerned about.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have a center fielder. His name is Bryan Reynolds. Bryan Reynolds wasn’t the best center fielder in baseball last year, with a 5.5 fWAR in 159 games, but he was second-best (Marte had 5.5 fWAR in just 120 games last season). Baltimore’s Cedric Mullins was 3rd, with 5.3 fWAR. Both franchises are continuing their never-ending rebuild and there has been speculation, however flimsy, that the Phillies could pursue one of these players.

Make no mistake... Reynolds and Mullins are stars. They are a true answer for the Phillies’ center field problems. And lest you think next year’s free agency crop is going to be better (Cain, Jackie Bradley, Jr., and Kiermaier are the headliners), the Phils would need to trade for Reynolds, Mullins, or someone of their ilk, to truly solve their problem in center.

Given Reynolds’ and Mullins’ age, ability, and years of team control left, it would cost a king’s ransom to land either player, and let’s not forget, Pittsburgh and Baltimore don’t have to trade him. They’re still relatively cheap and aren’t breaking their bank. Not only that, the Phillies have one of the weakest farm systems in the league, with few close-to-Major League-ready talent players ready to contribute.

On the latest episode of Hittin’ Season, Justin Klugh of Baseball Prospectus, Liz Roscher of Yahoo! Sports and I chatted about what a deal for Reynolds or Mullins would have to look like and whether it’s realistic. Failing landing one of those two studs, we also discussed our preference among the Kiermaier-Margot-Laureano-Cain quartet, as well as a number of other Twitter mailbag questions.

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