As the non-waiver trade deadline across Major League Baseball approached, the rumor mill was extremely active with scores of names potentially in play. With at least two dozen deals actually becoming reality, much of the focus since has been on the headliners changing teams.
This is rightfully so, with big names including David Price, Austin Jackson, Yoenis Cespedes, Asdrubal Cabrera and Chase Headley - not to mention three-fifths of the Red Sox rotation in Jon Lester, Jake Peavy and John Lackey - changing teams.
Yet there are some less prominent players who should benefit as a result of the trades, as well, whether directly or indirectly. I will note a handful of them here, as they are more likely available in your leagues.
Indirectly – Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny was in a tough spot. Allen Craig, a proven player with over $30 million remaining on his contract, had been struggling all season long. Top prospect Oscar Taveras had shown he was ready for the Majors, but his only route to playing time would be at Craig’s expense.
By shipping Craig to the Red Sox in the Lackey trade, Cards GM John Mozeliak eliminated Matheny’s decision-making on this matter. Taveras will be the Cardinals' everyday right fielder going forward. While the left-handed hitter may bat seventh initially, he should move up in the order once he gets his feet firmly planted.
Directly – Jake Marisnick, OF, Astros
Despite a tantalizing combination of power and speed, the former Marlins top prospect could not establish any traction in two earlier trials with Miami, batting just .175. Dealt to Houston in the Jarred Cosart trade, Marisnick should receive everyday playing time in centerfield the rest of the way.
Directly – Zach Walters, SS, Indians
Though the Tribe has dispatched the former Nationals infielder to Triple-A initially upon his acquisition for Asdrubal Cabrera, Walters should displace journeyman Mike Aviles up the middle very soon. After he does, he should hold down the job for a long time. The 24-year-old switch-hitter has already mastered Triple-A.
Indirectly – Stephen Vogt, UT, A’s
No one player is going to replace Cespedes in the Oakland lineup, but the versatile Vogt should be at the front of the line to receive additional playing time. Eligible at catcher, first base and outfield in many leagues, the left-handed hitter is batting .351 with 23 RBI in just 151 at-bats. This is qualified support until we see how Sam Fuld and Jonny Gomes play in the new Oakland mix, but my suspicion is that both will be reserves.
Directly – Tommy Milone, SP, Twins
Though Billy Beane scores heavily in many corners due to his trade wizardry, the move of Milone to the Twins in return for a player he let go not too many weeks ago in Fuld is curious to say the least. Milone was squeezed out of the A’s rotation a month ago despite good numbers – a 3.55 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 61 strikeouts and 26 walks in 96 1/3 innings. The left-hander was initially assigned to Triple-A Rochester, but I cannot see that lasting very long.
Directly – Joe Kelly, SP, Red Sox
Despite good numbers in each of the past two seasons, Kelly had to come to camp and re-earn his rotation spot in both of the subsequent springs. Though he allows a lot of runners, the right-hander doesn’t let too many come home and can throw 95 mph. With the young arms at the top of the Cardinals system, Kelly’s long-term future in St. Louis was cloudy, but the current Red Sox offer nothing but opportunity.
Directly – Nick Franklin, SS, Rays
Because Ben Zobrist was not moved at the deadline, Franklin was sent to Triple-A upon his acquisition from Seattle. Though Franklin continues to rake against minor league pitching, he could manage just a .214 average in two partial seasons in the Majors. The switch-hitter should receive a chance with Tampa soon.
Indirectly – Joaquin Benoit, RP, Padres
When Huston Street was sent to the Angels, Benoit was considered to be the next to go in the Padres’ fire sale. It did not happen, at least yet. In the meantime, Benoit is continuing his exceptional pitching for San Diego. All he needs is more opportunities for saves, though that seems unlikely.
Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 16-year history. He also holds the all-time NL Tout single-season records for wins and saves. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.