2022 MLB trade deadline: Five under-the-radar players who could help long-term contenders

The Major League Baseball trade deadline will pass Tuesday, Aug. 2, which means teams have just over a week to complete their midsummer shopping. CBS Sports has already ranked the top 30 candidates in the trading block, but sometimes 30 is not enough. Instead, today we’re adding a handful of “under the radar” types to the mix.

You may be wondering what, precisely, qualifies a player for this label? In our opinion, this designation is appropriate when a player’s high-level stats don’t reflect their actual contributions, or when they lack the brand appeal of some of their peers. We also didn’t consider anyone for this piece that made it to the top 30 charts. The best way to think of these players, then, is that they’re Deadline’s album cuts.

With that in mind, let’s turn into baseball hipsters and carry on. (Note that players are listed in alphabetical order.)

Davies might feel too accomplished for that premise considering he’s an eight-year veteran with an ERA+ career on the right side of 100, but we suspect he’s having a better season than people think after his horrible stint with the Chicago Cubs. Indeed, in his first 15 starts, he has a 103+ ERA and 2.38 strikeout ratio, and he’s done a great job of suppressing his contact quality against. (He ranks in the 91st percentile in exit speed against, per Statcast.) Davies is currently recovering from a shoulder injury, and it’s unclear if he’ll return to action before the deadline. The Diamondbacks could still move him on a conditional deal, with their return contingent on his availability the rest of the way.

Farmer hasn’t had a particularly impressive season from a leading line perspective. In his first 16 appearances, he has a 4.74 ERA while racking up a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.60. However, we think it’s an attractive and inexpensive target for a team looking for help in the bullpen. This is partly because Farmer throws a sweeper that forced puffs on a higher swing rate than those thrown by the following individuals: Shohei Ohtani, Michael King, Evan Phillips and Joe Musgrove. Despite Farmer’s break-ball effectiveness — and, ahem, his fastball’s ineffectiveness — he only threw it 33% of the time. We would like to see a competitor acquire it and ask them to increase that usage rate.

Marisnick played for four teams during the pandemic era. We estimate that the weakness in the center field market will push this number to five before August 2nd. Marisnick can still pick him up, with Statcast estimating he’s prevented an absurd five points in 31 games. It’s true that he remains a mediocre hitter – his 85 OPS+ this season would be his best in a full season since 2017 – but that’s okay. You don’t trade for Marisnick because you think he’s Maris; you trade for him because his glove could come in handy in a late and close fall situation.

Trivino hasn’t alternated between good and bad seasons during his career, but it really does feel like he’s now boasting a 6.68 ERA in nearly 40 appearances. While that normally makes him a non-bidder – and heck, it still can – we think there’s reason to believe he’ll perform better over time. Trivino started throwing a sweeper earlier this season with good returns: he allowed an average of .115 against and he generated puffs on more than 55% of the shots taken against his new toy. There is also the matter of the sweet and simple regression to the mean. Trivino’s .390 batting average on ground balls is one of the highest of the majors; meanwhile, his average exit speed against grounded players is in line with league average. There is no reason, in other words, to believe that it is fatally flawed.

Hey, we promised each other deep cuts, didn’t we? Reynolds, 31, appeared in nearly 200 major league games in five seasons with four teams. In 63 games for the Reds this year, he’s hitting .257/.332/.365 (88 OPS+) with three home runs and four stolen bases. Why the hell is he here? Because it’s a low crop of under-the-radar batters, and because its underlying ball tracking data is greener than you might think. Namely, Reynolds ranks in the 87th percentile for balls hit at 95 mph or harder, and he ranks in the 97th percentile for balls hit between 10 and 30 degrees. It’s a nice combination. Now, okay, Reynolds hits a lot, and you should probably hedge your bets on him to maintain those marks…but if Christian Bethancourt can find a home with a competitor, Reynolds should be able to as well.

Neal T. Doss