By: Chris Larson
As every July 31st Trade Deadline approaches, there are always various groups of players that you can categorize ranging from the well-known players dominating headlines to the lesser-known players that you don't necessarily hear or read much about. With this years July 31st Trade Deadline, the same storyline holds true and there's been plenty of illustration so far about names that no one is talking about, that contending teams clearly have their eye set on.
So far, names like Marcus Stroman, Matthew Boyd, Madison Bumgarner, Zack Wheeler, and Trevor Bauer have dominated the starting pitching market, while names like Ken Giles, Will Smith, Shane Greene, and Felipe Vazquez have caught wind on the relief side of things. When it comes to the position player category, Whit Merrifield, Nick Castellanos, and Jesus Aguilar have been the main names that have captured the attention of the media and fans alike.
However, as is the case every year, there are plenty of lesser known guys that are on the move from a seller to a contending team so here are 8 lesser known names that could be moved this year.
1. INF Eric Sogard (Toronto Blue Jays) - Eric Sogard has been a legitimate weapon on the Toronto Blue Jays 25-man roster and represents an impactful name that could immediately lengthen the bench of any contending team. Sogard, who is in the midst of his age-33 season, goes into play tonight with a slash line of: .300/.377/.339 over 277 at bats or 71 games with 10 home runs, 30 RBI, 29 walks, and 44 strikeouts. Sure, it's not the most impressive batting slash line ever to be known by man, but it still presents a potential upgrade for contending teams that may not want to pay the price that it would take to pry away, utilityman Whit Merrifield from the Kansas City Royals. Essentially, if a contending team does elect to trade for Sogard, they will get him simply to help them down the stretch and as a pinch runner in the postseason, as he will be a free agent at seasons end.
2. RP Cam Bedrosian (Los Angeles Angels) - Recently, things haven't gone very well for Cam Bedrosian as he has a 7.36 ERA over 7.1 innings pitched over the past 7 games, but he has a cumulative 3.23 ERA over 47.1 IP with a (9.89) K/9 rate and an Opponent Batting Average Against of (.190) on the year. For contending teams that don't necessarily want to compete with other contenders at the top end of the market, Cam Bedrosian could be a great option at the back end. In addition, over the span of his 6-year big league career, Bedrosian has experience closing out games (9 saves in 25 save opportunities). Although, a contending team might look at those stats and immediately shy away from the idea of using Bedrosian in the closer role, it does present a unique option for the team that acquires him. Any contending team would love the option of having multiple options to close out games down the stretch and once the postseason rolls around.
3. RP Scott Oberg (Colorado Rockies) - Scott Oberg likely isn't a name that automatically comes to mind when you think of who the most effective relievers in the majors have been so far this season, but that's exactly what type of resume he has built up this year. Oberg, who turned 29 this past March, is under control through the 2021 season and has really helped to save plenty of dreadful relief outings for a Colorado Rockies bullpen. So far this season, Scott Oberg has put up a 1.70 ERA over 47.2 innings of work with a (0.76) home runs-per-9 rate and a (82.1%) left on-base percentage. If that isn't enough to capture the attention of a contending team looking for bullpen help, then they should take a look at his overall makeup. Beyond being a groundball reliever, as illustrated by his career (54.8%) groundball rate, Scott Oberg has really started to rely on his slider more than ever before. Thus far, Oberg is throwing his slider (44.1%) of the time compared to (37.4%) of the time last year.
4. OF Nomar Mazara (Texas Rangers) - When you look at the Texas Rangers outfield possibilities, they have a significant problem that no team wants to deal with and that's the idea of having an all left-handed hitting outfield group. That group consists of Shin-Soo Choo, Joey Gallo (assuming he ultimately ends up moving back to a corner outfield spot), Willie Calhoun, and the aforementioned Nomar Mazara. As such, that means that the Rangers would probably like to move one of those names in an effort to look for a right-handed hitting outfielder, not named Hunter Pence, moving forward down the road. Therefore, Nomar Mazara should be on the radar of a contending team in need of such a bat because he is still young (24 years old), he is under control through the end of the 2021 regular season, and he is affordable (Mazara is arbitration eligible next season). Given all of that and the offensive capabilities that Mazara still possesses, he could be a nice under-the-radar type of acquisition for any contending team's offense.
5. SP/RP Ian Kennedy (Kansas City Royals) - The Kansas City Royals possess a very intriguing name in starting pitcher-turned-reliver, Ian Kennedy. A few years ago, the Royals ultimately signed Ian Kennedy as a free agent to a five-year, $70 million dollar contract, with the intent of utilizing him as a starting pitcher. However, after showing some signs of brilliance as a starting pitcher, Kennedy ultimately started to regress to the point where Kansas City had no other choice but to move him to the bullpen prior to the start of this season. Exactly how many contending teams are interested in Kennedy's services or what type of return the Kansas City Royals are looking for remains to be seen, but this could be an intriguing name for a contending team that might be looking for a hybrid arm down the stretch and come October. So far this season as a reliever, Ian Kennedy has a 3.48 ERA over 41.1 innings pitched with a (10.9) K/9 rate and a (2.24) Fielding Independent Percentage.
6. SP Trevor Richards (Miami Marlins) - According to recent reports, Miami Marlins starting pitcher, Trevor Richards, has started to generate some interest among contending teams and that should come as no surprise as teams continue to scour the market for every available option. Ultimately, the Miami Marlins have a more intriguing name in left-hander, Caleb Smith, but it remains to be seen if the Marlins are ready to move on from Smith in favor of receiving position player prospects back in return. That's where Trevor Richards comes into the picture as a potential trade chip and an overall under-the-radar type of name. Over the past two seasons, Richards hasn't necessarily been brilliant posting a 4.51 ERA over 235.1 innings of work, but so far this year his runs scored-per-9 innings rate is lower than it was last year (3.70 last season compared to 2.89 this year) and he has an overall walk-to-strikeout ratio of (2.04). Beyond all of those numbers, there is intrigue because Richards is making league minimum this year, is under control through the 2024 season, and is reaching the prime years of his career meaning he could thrive in the right environment.
7. RP Justin Wilson (New York Mets) - Overall, the 2019 regular season has been a very good one for relief pitcher, Justin Wilson, despite all of the on-field and off-the-field issues surrounding the New York Mets squad. On the year, Justin Wilson has a a 3.45 ERA over 15.2 innings pitched with 13 strikeouts and an Opponent Batting Average Against of (.211), but the past 7 games have been really special for Wilson in particular. During that span, Wilson has put up a 1.59 ERA over 5.2 innings of work with a (1.06) WHIP. Among Wilson's pitch repertoire, his most effective pitch all season long has been his four-seam fastball which averages (94.9) miles per hour and has an average exit velocity of (86.8) miles per hour. Furthermore, during situations where the ballgame has entered late/close innings, Justin Wilson has really thrived. In 7.1 innings where those situations have been in play, Wilson has a (1.23) ERA along with an Opponent Batting Average Against of (.125). That's significant because many contending teams would be looking at Justin Wilson for the back end of their bullpen.
8. OF Melky Cabrera (Pittsburgh Pirates) - Despite the need for the Pittsburgh Pirates to sell off some larger scale items like outfielder Starling Marte and closer Felipe Vazquez, things just aren't going to operate that way in Steel City. Therefore, the Pirates will likely be focused on moving lesser known names on their 25-man roster including starting pitcher Jordan Lyles and outfielders, Corey Dickerson and Melky Cabrera. Every year around this time, it seems as though Melky Cabrera otherwise known as The Melk Man is on the move to some contending team and things don't appear to be any different this year. At 34-years old, Melky Cabrera is a veteran bat that a contending team might like to have down the stretch for that ever so valuable veteran leadership and the Pirates are most likely willing to deal him away to make room for up-and-coming outfielder, Jose Osuna. Regardless of his age, Melky Cabrera continues to post and has a cumulative slash line of: .306/.340/.780 over 252 at bats so far this season.