The non-waiver trade deadline is over but there remains a number of players who could still be moved and have an impact on a number of pennant races.
One of the biggest missteps of the trade deadline was the White Sox holding onto Jeff Samardzija, in my opinion. As I wrote before, it’s an incredibly flawed team that, instead of trying to compete, should be torn down and built anew. Keeping Samardzija and hoping that the White Sox will make the playoffs seems like a misguided dream. Hopefully the White Sox come to understand that developing a first round sandwich pick and trading for a near developed prospect are not two equal parts and seek to deal Samardzija.
Samardzija’s season has been quite odd for him. Samardzija has always been tabbed as a hard throwing righthander who strikes guys out and is incredibly aggressive in his approach. This season has been Samardzija’s worst in striking guys out as his strikeout rate, which settled between 23% and 25% the past few years, has crashed to a paltry 17.9%. It has forced Samardzija to make adjustments to the way he was pitching. Those adjustments are certainly showing as Samardzija was one of the better pitchers in July with a 2.27 ERA though he still only struck out 15.7% of the batters he faced. As the pitching market lost those valuable star pieces in Hamels, Price, and co. at the deadline, Samardzija could be one of the more interesting and valuable pieces to come available in August.
The Red Sox have been really bad this season. Pretty much nothing has worked out in Boston other than Mookie Betts and everyone falling in love with Brock Holt. This leaves players like Napoli, whose contract only runs through this season, potentially on the chopping block. Napoli was not excluded from the sea of terribleness that has rushed into the Boston clubhouse. For the majority of his career, Napoli has been tabbed as a dependable, bat first catcher until he was turned into the DH/1B he is today. The bat still translated reasonably well to those positions and all had been well. This year is where the wheels fell off. Napoli is struggling to stay above replacement level. But, with a BABIP of around .260, there is some hope that maybe there’s a bit of good baseball left in him for this season. Like Chase Utley, he may be a good fit for a team looking for upside on the cheap.
In what would turn out to be Dave Dombrowski’s last trade deadline with the Tigers, they took the “for sale” sign out and planted it in the front yard. Soon to be free agents Yoenis Cespedes and David Price were sent packing in two different trades for a very good group of prospects headlined by Daniel Norris. Rajai Davis, another expiring contract player, had a lot of smoke around him for a short time as well. After Davis followed a bunch of people involved with the Cardinals, people had assumed that he was headed south. This deal did not come to fruition, yet Davis remains a decent trade piece for Detroit.
Rajai Davis is a pretty straightforward player. First off, he’s really fast. He’s capable of stealing 30+ bases fairly easily. Though he only has 15 steals this year, there’s still a lot of baseball left to be played. He also does this bordering as a fulltime player given that he has only crossed the 140 game mark twice in his career. Basically, Davis would fit the need for any team seeking some speed off the bench or to bolster their outfield a bit more.
Austin Jackson has been involved in two of the biggest trades in Detroit Tigers history. The first, when he was Baseball America’s #36 prospect, was in 2009 when the Yankees sent him to Detroit as part of the Max Scherzer trade. Jackson would be an absolutely integral part of the Tigers for years as he finished 2nd the Rookie of the Year voting and then posted a few very good seasons with a 5.4 win season mixed in there. The second trade he was involved him sent him from Detroit to his current home in Seattle when Detroit acquired David Price.
Jackson, another player set to hit the market in the offseason, is not quite playing up to his aforementioned former glory. Jackson has struggled to hit the past two seasons. This can be traced back to how hard he’s hitting the ball. His hard hit rate in 2013 settled in at 32.6%; whereas, the past two seasons it has been at 26.1% and 27.8%. He may not be able to hit the ball hard enough anymore. Even if he can’t, he still provides defensive value from a scare position. Jackson is currently carrying a 7.7 raw defensive rating on Fangraphs. This defensive ability plus the boost you get from playing center field is keeping his WAR up at 1.2 and staving off that negative value from the bat. So, any team looking for a potentially cheap add in center field could look to Seattle to move Jackson.