Eight Trade Deadline Targets Flying Under the Radar

We already know about guys like Jack Flaherty and Garrett Crochet. Who are some trade candidates that should be getting more attention?

Yusei Kikuchi of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts following the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.
ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - MARCH 30: Yusei Kikuchi #16 of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts following the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on March 30, 2024 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

If you’re not sick of this shit stain we call baseball yet, then chances are your team of choice is still in contention. If you’re sick of it all, then chances are your team of choice is very much not in contention. Or maybe you’re just a sicko writing baseball articles on the internet, so the question is irrelevant.

But no matter which side you fall on, the trade deadline is here to give you a jolt to your system. 

As is the case every season, every fanbase is wigging out, throwing out delusional mock trades like it’s their day job, and thinking “We need another pitcher” is somehow a need exclusive to their team. It’s just the best.

There are plenty of big names to go around, especially as teams better clarify their position as buyers and sellers over the coming weeks, but what about the little goons?

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We already know about your Jack Flaherty’s, your Luis Robert Jr.’s, and your clearly-not-real-but-dem-clicks-tho-rumors for Vladdy Jr.’s. Let’s talk about the other guys.

These aren’t the type of players that will fully assuage fans’ panic concerns, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make any difference. Man the submarines and ready the drills, because it’s time to dig a little deeper and talk about (NUMBER OF PLAYERS) under-the-radar trade candidates that could help your team’s quest for Eternal Glory.

Stats and records updated prior to games on July 9.

Jesse Winker, Washington Nationals

Jesse Winker of the Washington Nationals rounds the bases on a two-run home run in the third inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Jesse Winker #6 of the Washington Nationals rounds the bases on a two-run home run in the third inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on April 16, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

If you’re an avid follower of the orbs that are thrown and sometimes hit, your familiarity with Jesse Winker likely revolves around his infamous fights or his struggles with hitting lefties (career 89 wRC+, and go look up his 2021 splits for a bit of fun).

The first thing hasn’t quite changed, but Winker has somewhat amended the lefty concerns, posting a solid 105 wRC+ against them this season. His overall offensive output (.268/.382/.436, 135 wRC+) is his best since 2021. 

He’s got a track record of being a poor defender, but there is also prior evidence that his offense isn’t coming out of nowhere — his dreadful stint in Milwaukee was clearly an outlier. 

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Taylor Ward, Los Angeles Angels

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Taylor Ward, who is on the esteemed list of Role Players We Were Hoping Would Finally Provide Mike Trout Some Help.

But even still, there could be some upside here for another team, and there’s at least a possibility that the Angels — the only people who haven’t realized they need to rebuild — will finally start rebuilding.

Although his overall numbers don’t jump off the page, he’s been absolutely mashing lefties (.354/.403/.554, 167 wRC+) so far this season. A contending team like the Cardinals, who have the 2nd worst OPS against lefties this season, might have use for him. Plus, they’re the Cardinals and they love betting on player development.

Randal Grichuk, Arizona Diamondbacks

Randal Grichuk is one of those players that you’ve had to pick up off the fantasy waiver wire more times than you would’ve liked. But this year, you might’ve picked him up with a tad more bit of enthusiasm than in years prior.

Through 58 games this season, Grichuk is slashing .288/.347/.455 with a 126 wRC+, his highest mark since 2015.

His hard-hit rate (47.4%) is the best of his career, and his strikeout rate (13.6%) is, you guessed it, the lowest of his career.

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Grichuk could fill in admirably for many contending teams with outfield problems/injuries (e.g. the Padres after Fernando Tatis Jr. went down). Admittedly, though, it’s unclear if the Diamondbacks will be sellers at the deadline, so we’ll have to see how things shake out until then.

Justin Turner, Toronto Blue Jays

Fans of the show Dave should be grateful. Because while the show is on a bit of a break, you still get plenty of Andrew Santino content as long as Justin Turner remains in the league.

At age 39, how much longer he can provide value is a serious question, but Turner might be a nice piece for teams in need of a steady, proven bat. 

His hard-hit rate has fallen precipitously, which is no surprise given his age, but he’s also somewhat made up for it with the best walk rate of his career (12.8%), which ranks in the 93rd percentile of all active players.

As a bonus, Turner has hit lefties extremely well (141 wRC+), so teams in need of a decent bat that will cost next to nothing might want to take notice.

Yusei Kikuchi, Toronto Blue Jays

Remember when the Blue Jays, for some reason, were a popular World Series pick? Look at these sad, decrepit sacks of failure now. Look at them. I want you to look. You got fooled by Bo Bichette’s radiant hair, didn’t you? Idiots. 

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But in all seriousness, the Blue Jays also have some decent pitchers who could be on the move on top of the aforementioned Turner. Kikuchi is one, and while his numbers don’t jump off the page his strikeout rate (even with the dip in whiff rate) is steady and his FIP (3.61) and xFIP (3.43) suggest there could be some upside this year.

Given the litany of pitcher injuries around the league, a player like Kikuchi — who, at the minimum, can fill some innings as a back-end starter — could be a godsend for teams in need of a lefty that won’t cost as much as pitchers like Jack Flaherty or Garrett Crochet. 

Dylan Floro, Washington Nationals

Just like actor Glen Powell’s character Finnegan from the baseball movie Everybody Wants Some!! Dylan Floro might be a tiny bit underrated.

His 2.06 ERA and 2.32 FIP are incredibly good, even if his strikeout rate has taken a fall from last season. He’s great at limiting nuclear-level blow-up innings, and he’s rocking a 3.16 ERA overall since 2020.

He may not get much attention considering he doesn’t get many save opportunities, but Floro could be a premier setup man hiding in plain sight. 

Erick Fedde, Chicago White Sox

PHOENIX, ARIZONA – JUNE 15: Starter Erick Fedde #20 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning at Chase Field on June 15, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

Garrett Crochet this, Garrett Crochet that, blah blah, and most importantly: poo poo.

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The real story of the Chicago White Sox, for those brave enough to look, is actually Erick Fedde, who has had about as good of a turnaround season for anyone not named Jurickson Profar.

After six seasons of extremely mediocre production for the Nationals, Fedde spent his 2023 season in the KBO, where he thrived. Evidently, he was able to carry over some of his success and whatever he learned in Korea.

Fedde has been the definition of solid, adding a sweeper to his arsenal that opponents are hitting a measly .181 against this season. He won’t be the shutdown ace that everyone gushes over, but his ability to limit hard contact could end up making him one of those pitchers that turns out to be the Actual Best Acquisition by any team, because baseball is weird like that. 

Carlos Estévez, Los Angeles Angels

On top of having an objectively sick name, Estévez has shown some tremendous improvements from previous seasons. Sure, being away from the moon (Coors Field) is a plus, but it’s not that simple. Estévez has drastically decreased his walk rate (3.8% compared to 11% in 2023) and improved his slider to be a true put-away pitch. 

He doesn’t generate quite as many ground balls as you’d like, but who cares? With good peripherals to boot (2.99 FIP), Estévez could be a nice get that won’t cost nearly as much as some popular relievers (e.g. Mason Miller). And again, how cool is his name? Just say it out loud to yourself right now. Trust me. Go ahead.