10 Underrated MLB Trade Targets Teams Should Look to Acquire
Superstar players generally steal the headlines at the trade deadline, and this year is no different with guys like David Price, Cole Hamels, Ben Zobrist and Alex Rios receiving the bulk of the attention.
That being said, there are always at least a few under-the-radar moves made in July that wind up as notable differences for contenders.
The Detroit Tigers' addition of Jose Veras, the Atlanta Braves' addition of Elliot Johnson and the Tampa Bay Rays' addition of David DeJesus come to mind as significant deals from a year ago.
With this year's deadline just over a week away, here is a look at 10 underrated MLB trade targets that could make a difference down the stretch here in 2014.
OF Bobby Abreu, New York Mets
After sitting out the 2013 season, Bobby Abreu is back in the big leagues this season.
A strong showing in the Venezuelan Winter League convinced him to make a comeback, and he's quietly been a solid bat off the bench for the Mets.
On a one-year, $800,000 deal, there is not a cheaper option on the market. He's not the superstar player he was in his prime, but he still has plus on-base skills and could be a useful left-handed bat for a contender looking to fill out its bench.
C Robinson Chirinos, Texas Rangers
The catching market is usually thin at the deadline, and this season is no different, but one name that could intrigue contenders is Robinson Chirinos of the Texas Rangers.
The 30-year-old entered the season with just 83 big league at-bats under his belt, but he has emerged as the Rangers' primary backstop with Geovany Soto sidelined. Though expected to return very soon, Soto has incredibly already landed back on the DL, so the team could potentially avoid shopping Chirinos between now and the deadline.
He's shown some surprising pop, with nine doubles and nine home runs in 196 at-bats, and his 1.1 dWAR is tied for fifth among all catchers.
He'd be a backup on a contender, but his plus receiving skills and power make him an attractive, low-cost option for a team looking to add some depth behind the plate.
SP Kevin Correia, Minnesota Twins
The Twins signed Kevin Correia to a two-year, $10 million deal prior to the 2013 season, and he was actually one of the team's better starters last year, going 9-13 with a 4.18 ERA for the league's worst rotation.
Looking past his AL-worst 12 losses and a 4.76 ERA, he has actually been throwing the ball fairly well of late. Over his last eight games, the right-hander has gone 3-5 with a 2.87 ERA and six quality starts.
The 33-year-old is a free agent at the end of the season, so the Twins will likely move him for whatever they can get at this point.
He's not going to carry a rotation down the stretch, but he's a decent back-of-the-rotation arm who can eat innings. For a team looking to add some insurance to its staff at a low cost, he's as good an option as any.
SP Ian Kennedy, San Diego Padres
Ian Kennedy is probably the biggest name on this list, but he has not gotten the attention he deserves as one of the top starting-pitching options on the market this July. As far as second-tier options are concerned, he may be the one guy capable of exceeding expectations and pitching like a front-line arm.
The Padres wisely bought low on the 29-year-old at the deadline last year, picking him up from the Arizona Diamondbacks for southpaw reliever Joe Thatcher, and they could look to flip him again.
His 2.98 FIP ranks 15th among all qualified starters, and he has actually pitched better on the road (10 GS, 3.06 ERA) than he has at home (11 GS, 4.18 ERA) in spacious Petco Park.
He's under team control through next season, so the Padres aren't exactly chomping at the bit to move him, according to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. He'll still come far cheaper than someone like David Price or Cole Hamels, though, for a team looking to add an impact starter.
RP Andrew Miller, Boston Red Sox
Andrew Miller was one of the top pitching prospects in the 2006 draft, and when the Detroit Tigers took him with the No. 6 overall pick, the big 6'7" left-hander looked to have all the makings of a future staff ace.
He was shipped to the Marlins as one of the big pieces of the Miguel Cabrera trade, but he never quite panned out as a starter. Entering 2012, he was 21-29 with a 5.79 ERA in 96 games (66 starts) and looking like a major bust.
A move to the bullpen in 2012 turned his career around, and over 135 appearances the past three seasons, he has a 2.72 ERA and a 13.2 K/9 mark as one of the better lefty relievers in the game.
There is no shortage of teams interested, according to Peter Gammons of MLB Network. The 29-year-old is a free agent at the end of the season, but he's a rental arm that is capable of making a serious impact for a contender in the second half.
IF/OF Sean Rodriguez, Tampa Bay Rays
Defensive versatility is one of the most valuable qualities in a player these days. Ben Zobrist and Martin Prado are two names receiving a lot of interest on the market this July, and understandably so, but someone like Sean Rodriguez could fill a similar role at a much lower price.
The 29-year-old is capable of playing all four infield positions and corner outfield, and while teams won't get the same sort of offensive production as they would with Zobrist or Prado, he's no slouch with the bat either.
His 10 home runs in 150 at-bats this season already represent a career high, and his 124 OPS+ shows how productive he's been in limited action this year.
He has not specifically been mentioned in any trade rumors to this point, but there's no reason to think the Rays would not be open to moving him as well as their more talked-about trade chips. He makes $1.475 million this season and will no doubt earn a raise this coming offseason in his final year of arbitration.
RP Tony Sipp, Houston Astros
Tony Sipp was released by the San Diego Padres on May 1 after failing to make the team's Opening Day roster on a minor league contract.
The Astros signed him to a one-year, $500,000 deal the same day, and he has been their most effective reliever so far this season—and their most attractive trade chip as a result.
His 2.54 ERA and 0.812 WHIP are both career bests, and adding to his value is the fact that he is solid against right-handers (.216 BA, .637 OPS) on top of dominating left-handers (.100 BA, .362 OPS). He's not just a LOOGY.
The Astros could opt to hold on to closer Chad Qualls after signing him to a two-year deal with an option for a third, but Sipp seems like a safe bet to be dealt. He could be a big pickup for teams like the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, who are in serious need of southpaws in the pen.
OF Dayan Viciedo, Chicago White Sox
After posting an .856 OPS with 20 home runs as a 22-year-old in Triple-A back in 2011, Dayan Viciedo looked to be on his way to stardom with the Chicago White Sox.
The Cuban defector held his own in his first year as an everyday guy in 2012, putting up a .744 OPS with 25 home runs and 78 RBI, but his career has been at a stand-still since.
He's never been a big on-base-percentage guy, but he's seen his OBP drop under .300 this season. Coupled with his subpar defense in the outfield, that has him currently checking in as a negative-WAR player. Once Avisail Garcia returns next season, Viciedo could be the odd man out in the outfield, making him an obvious candidate to be dealt.
"That's something I don't control," he told Daniel Kramer of MLB.com. "I just worry about coming in and playing the game hard every day. I have no real concern with trade rumors or any of that stuff. I have no control over that."
Viciedo has one thing the market is thin on, and that's power from the right side of the plate. The Seattle Mariners have been linked to him already this July, according to Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago, and he would certainly fill a need in the middle of their lineup at a relatively low price.
LF Josh Willingham, Minnesota Twins
Back in 2012, Josh Willingham was one of the hottest commodities on the trade market. He entered the All-Star break hitting .261/.376/.536 with 19 home runs and 60 RBI in what was the first year of a three-year, $21 million deal with Minnesota.
He went on to win Silver Slugger honors with 35 home runs and 110 RBI that season, but his numbers dropped off significantly last year. Injuries limited him to just 111 games, and he hit .208/.342/.368 with 14 home runs and 48 RBI in the 389 at-bats he did manage.
His .209 average so far this season isn't great, but he does have a solid .365 on-base percentage and a .289 average with runners in scoring position.
In a thin market for bats, he offers some attractive right-handed pop. As a free agent at the end of the season, the Twins will be motivated to move him, so he shouldn't be overly expensive, either.
RP Brad Ziegler, Arizona Diamondbacks
Since the start of the 2012 season, Brad Ziegler has been one of the most frequently used relievers in all of baseball, appearing in 206 games over that span for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
He has pitched to a 2.39 ERA and a 1.104 WHIP during that time, and he even spent a good portion of the second half last year in the closer's role, racking up a career-high 13 saves.
The 34-year-old is signed for $5 million next season and has a $5.5 million team option for 2016, so he is someone who could help fill out a team's bullpen beyond just the second half of this season.
That will make his asking price a bit higher than it would be if he were set to hit free agency, but there are few veteran setup men who are more reliable, and he will still be a cheaper option than someone like Joaquin Benoit.
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