'Sneaky' Trade Deadline candidates to watch closely
Not all deals include stars; some of the most impactful are for role players
With July looming, the names of note for the upcoming Trade Deadline are popping up with greater frequency in your headlines and Twitter feeds.
Ricky Nolasco could go any day now, and Bud Norris could be quick to follow. Cliff Lee is touted as a potentially available ace, and Giancarlo Stanton, once again, as a big bat worth bartering for. Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford could be moved so that Yasiel Puig's pristine play can move on uninterrupted. Jason Vargas, Yovani Gallardo, Kyle Lohse, Chase Utley … these are (some of) the more obvious guys who make up the early Trade Candidate Class of 2013.
But in the spirit of a Deadline in which it's often the less-sexy swaps that wind up looking awfully shrewd come October, here are a handful of trade possibilities that trend more toward the sneaky side -- guys whose performances are perhaps overlooked, or at least unexpected.
Nate Schierholtz, Cubs: The Cubs are clear-cut sellers with their fair share of wares, and Matt Garza and Scott Feldman ("… From Across the Hall" as they say in Seinfeld's "Bizarro World") will probably attract a great deal of interest, simply because they are viable starters with a pulse.
The less-obvious name to note is Nate. Non-tendered by the Phillies last winter, the Cubs scooped him up on a one-year deal, but because he doesn't yet have the service time to qualify for free agency, the Cubs (or whoever acquires him) control him for 2014, as well.
Schierholtz, then, is more than a short-term rental, and while he doesn't bring the prototypical corner-outfield power many teams will be seeking, his .975 OPS against right-handed pitching is awfully attractive. He's certainly earning every penny of his $2.25 million contract.
Kevin Correia, Twins: Justin Morneau is the household name (albeit without the household-name-type numbers this season) and Glen Perkins would be a widely sought trade target if the Twins make him available (though that seems doubtful).
Correia, though, is a potentially impactful option if the Twins start moving bodies this summer. They have him under control for 2014 for just $5.5 million, so there's no financial incentive to deal him. But with Kyle Gibson now in the bigs, and some other options -- Andrew Albers, Pedro Hernandez and Cole De Vries -- in the Triple-A mix, perhaps they'd take this opportunity to deal from a position of depth.
Correia has appeal as a potential No. 4 type for a true contender. He has a 3.82 ERA on the season and a 2.55 mark over his past three starts. He's given up his share of homers, but he limits walks and can eat up innings.
Alex Rios, White Sox: With the White Sox likely joining their fellow Chicagoans from the North Side as solidly in the sell camp, Jesse Crain, who has been one of the best relievers in the game this season, is sure to attract a ton of interest. But if the Sox really get frisky at the Deadline, then Rios could be changing teams again, too.
Where once the Sox looked foolish for taking on Rios' salary from the Blue Jays, the $13 million he is owed in 2014 if he's traded doesn't look so bad when he's banging out a .284/.344/.472 slash line. And this is not a mathematical mirage, for Rios had a bounceback last season, when he hit .304/.334/.516. Throw in a '15 club option, and making a play for Rios doesn't look nearly as crazy as it did when the Sox claimed him off waivers in August 2009.
And Rios isn't the only one on this list who has resurrected his reputation.
Oliver Perez, Mariners: It was not long ago that Perez was essentially unwanted, but he's reinvented himself as a more-than-capable left-handed bullpen option for the Mariners, who would be wise to flip him while he's hot.
Through Monday, Perez had a 0.98 ERA and a 12.36 strikeouts-per-nine rate, and he had stranded 99.4 percent of opposing baserunners. He's got his velocity back to where it once was, he's a strong matchup option and, on the whole, he's come a long way from his Mets abyss.
Marlon Byrd, Mets: Another resurrection. A season ago, Byrd was released by the Red Sox before testing positive for a banned substance. This year, he hinted at retiring if he didn't make the Mets out of spring camp.
But he did make the team, and he has a respectable .259 average with a .797 OPS, 11 homers and 36 RBIs. Byrd would not be a game-changer for a contender, by any means, but he has shown that, when utilized in the proper pitching matchups, he can be an effective offensive weapon as well as a solid defender.
Jeremy Bonderman, Mariners: During Spring Training, Mariners evaluators were pleasantly surprised with how well Bonderman was throwing the ball after he was picked up off the scrap heap, and he made it back to the bigs after spending the first couple months of the season in the Minors.
When Bonderman debuted for the M's, it was his first Major League start since Oct. 1, 2010, and he was a long, long way removed from his successes of 2006 with the Tigers. But after a rocky debut, he has settled in to the tune of a 1.42 ERA in 25 1/3 innings over four starts. His paltry strikeout rate makes you skeptical, but Bonderman might be worth a flyer for teams in need of a back-of-the-rotation boost.