Major League Baseball's trade deadline will pass on Tuesday, Aug. 2, meaning teams have just over a week to complete their midsummer shopping., but sometimes 30 just isn't enough. Rather, today we're adding a handful of "under-the-radar" types to the mix.
You may wonder what, precisely, qualifies a player for this label? In our view, that designation is suitable when a player's top-line statistics don't reflect their actual contributions, or when they lack the brand-name appeal of some of their peers. We also didn't consider anyone for this piece who made it into the top 30 rankings. The best way to think about these players, then, is that they're the deadline's album cuts.
With that in mind, let's morph into baseball hipsters and get on with it. (Do note the players are presented in alphabetical order.)
1. Zach Davies, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Davies might feel too accomplished for this premise given that he's an eight-year veteran with a career ERA+ on the right side of 100, but we suspect he's having a better season than people realize following his horrid stint with the Chicago Cubs. Indeed, through his first 15 starts he has a 103 ERA+ and a 2.38 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and he's done an excellent job of suppressing his quality of contact-against. (He ranks in the 91st percentile in exit velocity against, per Statcast.) Davies is currently working his way back from a shoulder injury, and it's unclear if he'll return to game action ahead of the deadline. The Diamondbacks could always move him as part of a conditional deal, with their return contingent on his availability the rest of the way.
2. Buck Farmer, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
Farmer hasn't had a particularly impressive season from a top-line perspective. Over the course of his first 16 appearances, he has a 4.74 ERA while amassing a 2.60 strikeout-to-walk ratio. We do think he's an appealing, low-cost target for a team seeking bullpen help, however. That's in part because Farmer throws a sweeper that has coerced whiffs on a higher rate of swings than those thrown by the following individuals: Shohei Ohtani, Michael King, Evan Phillips, and Joe Musgrove. Despite the effectiveness of Farmer's breaking ball -- and, ahem, the ineffectiveness of his fastball -- he's chucked it just 33 percent of the time. We'd like to see a contender acquire him and request that he crank up that usage rate.
3. Jake Marisnick, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
Marisnick has played for four teams during the Pandemic Era. We reckon that the weak center-field market will cause that number to increase to five before Aug. 2. Marisnick can still go get it out there, with Statcast estimating that he's prevented an absurd five runs in 31 games. It's true that he remains a subpar hitter -- his 85 OPS+ this season would be his best in a full season since 2017 -- but that's fine. You aren't trading for Marisnick because you think he's Maris; you're trading for him because his glove could come in handy during some late-and-close situation in the fall.
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4. Lou Trivino, RHP, Oakland Athletics
Trivino hasn't alternated between good and bad seasons during his career, but it sure feels like now that he's sporting a 6.68 ERA in nearly 40 appearances. While that would normally make him a non-tender candidate -- and heck, it still may -- we think there's reason to buy into him performing better down the stretch. Trivino started throwing a sweeper earlier this season to good returns: he's allowed a .115 average-against and he's generated whiffs on more than 55 percent of the swings taken against his new toy. There's also the matter of sweet, simple regression to the mean. Trivino's .390 batting average on ground balls is one of the highest in the majors; meanwhile, his average exit velocity-against on grounders is in line with the league-average. There's no reason, in other words, to believe he's fatally flawed.
5. Matt Reynolds, UTL, Cincinnati Reds
Hey, we promised deep cuts, didn't we? Reynolds, 31, has appeared in nearly 200 big-league games across five seasons with four teams. In 63 contests with the Reds this year, he's hitting .257/.332/.365 (88 OPS+) with three home runs and four stolen bases. Why in the world is he here? Because it's a weak crop of under-the-radar hitters, and because his underlying ball-tracking data is greener than you'd anticipate. To wit, Reynolds ranks in the 87th percentile in batted balls hit 95 mph or harder, and he ranks in the 97th percentile in batted balls hit between 10 and 30 degrees. That's a nice combination. Now, granted, Reynolds does strike out a lot, and you should probably hedge your bets on him keeping up those marks … but if Christian Bethancourt can find a home with a contender, Reynolds should be able to, too.