Just around two weeks until the 2019 MLB trade deadline is upon us, and things seem to be strangely quiet for this time of year. While there have been some smaller moves made that have started a trend towards a busier trade season, nothing huge has happened just quite yet.
The Boston Red Sox have made the biggest move so far, acquiring starting pitcher Andrew Cashner from the basement-dwelling Baltimore Orioles, who traded Cashner away for a few small minor league additions, none too high on any prospect leaderboard. For the Red Sox, this move is more to help their depth rather than act as a solid move, as Cashner has a chance to not even make the postseason roster if the bullpen and starting rotation are both back to full health as the regular season finishes up.
For the rest of the league, their scouting efforts have gone into overdrive, as the middle of July represents the time to assess if a franchise is a buyer or a seller and whether they will stand pat and ride it out or if they will look to make moves to better their clubs for the present or the future. For the first time in what seems like a long time, there are a vast majority of teams that could lean either way in the buy or sell discussion, which will make for an interesting trade deadline.
There are always big names that dominate the wires in terms of trade rumors, but more often than not it is the smaller names, the under the radar guys who ultimately make the biggest impressions for the playoffs. Guys like Steve Pearce, Mike Montgomery, Terrence Gore, and Curtis Granderson, among others, have had their fair share of postseason lore, as each of these three players have not necessarily been sought-after names but have paid dividends for the acquiring teams.
With that in mind, here are some under the radar players that would be great additions to any postseason contenders for the 2019 playoffs.
Reyes Moronta – RP, San Francisco Giants
Dubbed as the future closer for this National League West team, Reyes Moronta has been a pleasant surprise for manager Bruce Bochy and his San Francisco Giants. Acting as a utility tool and at times the setup man, the 26-year old has been a trusty weapon out of the bullpen for the Giants in close games.
While a 3-5 win/loss record does not speak to his dominance, his 2.70 ERA across 40 games and 43.1 innings pitched paints a much clearer story of the type of bullpen asset Moronta is. A tough player for the Giants to give up, their bullpen should be the most talked-about area of any selling team this trade deadline.
Besides Moronta, the likes of closer Will Smith, as well as relievers Tony Watson, Mark Melancon, and Sam Dyson, should all be traded or at least discussed by teams that are looking to improve their bullpens. The latter four are farther along in their careers and much more polished than Moronta, but his stuff is solid and would be a solid addition.
Adam Jones – OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Staying out west, the long-tenured, well-respected veteran that Adam Jones is would be an absolute steal for any contender to acquire. Even after having played the vast majority of his professional career with the lowly Orioles, Jones has that veteran experience to be able to help any team steer clear of any postseason distractions.
As a member of the struggling Diamondbacks, he could be a part of a slew of veterans that are on new teams before the deadline is over, as Zach Greinke, Eduardo Escobar, Robbie Ray, Alex Avila, and Greg Holland could be donning different colors before August arrives.
Jones is a starter in Arizona but could become one of the best bench bats in the league if in that kind of situation, and his offense numbers (.261 / 13 HR / .742 OPS) makes him a great candidate to succeed in any role that he may be traded into. Being on a one-year deal makes him very valuable to contenders, so he should be on the move before the deadline passes.
Roenis Elias – RP/CL, Seattle Mariners
The first American League entrant on this list, Roenis Elias has taken over the role that incumbent All-Star closer Edwin Diaz held before being traded to the New York Mets in the offseason. With Diaz now in the Big Apple, Elias now has slid into the shutdown role with mixed results, although his age (30) and save numbers (11/13) help his cause.
While a 30-year-old reliever may not be anything special, Elias has been one of the few solid pieces in the Mariners bullpen this year, undergoing yet another rebuilding season that has seen them waste the talents of Yusei Kikuchi and others, while watching the health of famed franchise cornerstone Felix Hernandez deteriorate in front of their eyes.
While a cheaper get, contenders should not shy away from this disaster of a Mariners squad, as Elias headlines some of their diamond in the rough players that could easily find big-time roles on contending teams. As a late-inning addition to any bullpen, contenders would be smart to sniff out what it would take to get Elias out of the Pacific Northwest.
Jose Leclerc – RP/CL, Texas Rangers
Contenders never have enough bullpen help, and if they think they do, they are one injury away from wishing they made another move before the trade deadline. With the Texas Rangers, their stance at the deadline rests on how solid they think their footing is in the Wild Card playoff race in the AL because there is no way that any team is catching the surging Houston Astros.
What would constitute a smart play is becoming sellers, as the Rangers are not far off from being contenders but they are about a year ahead of their developmental/rebuild curve and should not jump into it too fast.
While Jose Leclerc would be a huge factor in their 2020 season and how successful it is, they could manage to get a decent return package for the 25-year-old right-hander, who also wears the number 25. In his fourth season in the majors, Leclerc has gone 19/26 in saves in his career, earning five in seven opportunities this season.
Comfortable in late-inning situations, Leclerc is a young piece that would be hard for the Rangers to give up, but if they are looking to replenish their system and add a few solid pieces, then sending Leclerc out to a team that has a solid farm system (the Atlanta Braves would be a solid option) would be a great option for them.