It’s no secret which players are on the trade block as the Major League Baseball trade deadline nears, as well as which teams are pursuing their talents. But there are plenty of players not being mentioned as trade candidates who could help a contending team. Here are eight under-the-radar veterans worth taking a flier on before the MLB trade deadline.
Starlin Castro, Miami Marlins
The 2019 season hasn’t been kind to Castro. He’s hitting .248 and on a Miami Marlins team that’s poised to miss the playoffs. But he’s still a well-rounded and reliable ballplayer.
Castro is a contact hitter. He puts the ball in play, doesn’t total strikeouts at a high rate, and despite lowly cumulative numbers, is hitting .329 while sporting an .895 OPS in July. He has also driven in a plausible 42 runs, which has him on pace to finish with the most RBIs of his career since 2012. Although he has never been an elite fielder, he’s adept at turning double plays with ease and holding his own at second base.
Castro has postseason experience under his belt with the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees. A veteran infielder with experience on the big stage always has a place on a championship contender.
Potential Candidates: Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, Oakland Athletics
Todd Frazier, New York Mets
Frazier is quietly putting together a nice bounce-back season. And with the Mets on the outskirts of the playoff picture and likely to be sellers, the third baseman should be a viable trade candidate — and one who could be a team’s short-term answer at the corner infield position.
Sure, his .244 batting average can be a bit repulsive, but it’s much higher than his 2016, 2017, and 2018 ones, and Frazier’s power helps partially offset his inconsistency at the plate; Frazier has totaled 13 home runs and 39 RBIs this season. However, defensively is where the 33-year-old is at his best. He makes plays in the hole and off his back hand with ease, which is supplemented by his strong arm.
Third basemen who field their position at a high level and hit for power are scarce — outside of the top-tier at the position. Frazier would be a savvy midseason addition.
Potential Candidates: Arizona Diamondbacks, San Francisco Giants, Tampa Bay Rays
Freddy Galvis, Toronto Blue Jays
Need a starting shortstop who hits well and is on a team-friendly contract? Call the Blue Jays about Galvis, he’d be perfect for you.
Galvis is stringing together the most productive season of his career at the plate. Hitting a career-best .268 while totaling 15 home runs and 47 RBIs, he has been a steady force on a young Blue Jays team. Galvis has pop in his bat, is a tough out, and a player whose offensive capabilities make him equipped to hit anywhere in a lineup.
Galvis signed a one-year deal with a team option for 2020 with the Blue Jays in the offseason. For a team that wants depth, or a starting shortstop, the Blue Jays infielder would be a shrewd bang-for-the-buck move. Plus, the Blue Jays could get a return on a player who doesn’t project to be part of their future.
Potential Candidates: Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves
Mychal Givens, Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles own the second-worst record in baseball; they’re going to be sellers. The most intriguing player on their roster who’s realistically available is Givens.
While the right-handed reliever owns a career-worse 4.28 ERA this season, he has been a steady force out of the Orioles bullpen in years past. He totals strikeouts at a high rate, is durable, has a potent four seamer, and is dependable. Givens has also totaled 17 saves over the last two seasons.
He works out of trouble, and chances are he’ll regain his form with another ballclub throughout the course of his contract. Under contract through 2021, Givens would provide a team with bullpen aid for the long haul.
Potential Candidates: Washington Nationals, Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies
Ian Kennedy, Kansas City Royals
Kennedy has served as the Royals closer this season, but has been a starting pitcher for the bulk of his career. That type of flexibility bodes well on a 2019 MLB pitching staff.
Kennedy owns a 3.40 ERA and has totaled 52 strikeouts and 19 saves this season. He can pitch multiple innings an appearance, get the final three outs of a game, and is a seasoned veteran. Literally any team looking for a flex pitcher, or versatile reliever, could find a niche for Kennedy.
Albeit the hefty price tag ($16.5 million a season), Kennedy is under contract through next season, meaning the team who acquires him gets depth on their pitching staff moving forward.
Potential Candidates: Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Angels
Jordan Lyles, Pittsburgh Pirates
It’s unclear which direction the 46-56 Pirates are going to go at the trade deadline, but they don’t look capable of making a playoff push, which could lead to a minuscule selling spree. Lyles is a name to keep tabs on.
Yes, he surrenders a lot of baserunners and has pitched to a high ERA over his career. At the same time, Lyles has a lot of experience taking the hill every fifth day, walks few batters, and could serve as an ideal flex pitcher. He can throw multiple innings an appearance out of the bullpen and, if need be, take the place of an injured starter.
There’s value in an experienced starter, no matter their production, considering how teams are in search of ways to upgrade their pitching staffs.
Potential Candidates: Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, Minnesota Twins
Justin Smoak, Toronto Blue Jays
Not too long ago, Smoak was being considered one of the best first basemen in baseball. His production has declined a bit over the last year and a half, but the backbone of his game still exists and can make a difference.
Smoak has blasted 80 home runs since the outset of the 2017 regular season. He’s one of the best power hitting and productive first basemen in baseball and holds his own defensively. While he’s likely not going to hit for average, Smoak can be in an everyday lineup given his power. Or, he could be a dangerous bat off the bench and further weaponize a team’s depth chart.
The Blue Jays are 26 games below .500 and want their youth on the field. The writing is on the wall with Smoak, but he can still make an impact elsewhere.
Potential Candidates: Tampa Bay Rays, St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros
Neil Walker, Miami Marlins
Again, the Marlins aren’t going to the playoffs, and if they can get a reasonable haul for their veterans and send them to a winning atmosphere, they should do as such. Walker has the skill set teams crave in 2019: versatility.
He plays both corner infield positions and has been a second baseman for the majority of his career. Walker’s ability to play around the infield comes in handy when injuries present themselves, or managers pitch/pinch hit late in games. Offensively, Walker is a steady force. He’s hitting .260, puts the ball in play often, and is a mature hitter.
Walker likely isn’t going to start every day for a contending team, but he can serve as a utility man and someone who, if need be, can start.
Potential Candidates: San Francisco Giants, Oakland Athletics, St. Louis Cardinals