Every year, big names swap teams in the days and weeks leading up to the MLB trade deadline.
As we saw with the Atlanta Braves and their World Series run a year ago, sometimes the lower profile additions are the ones that really count for certain teams when the calendar flips to October.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post recently listed five "under-the-radar hitters" that could be moved before next month's deadline. While some are still big names—like former AL MVP Jose Abreu—two are familiar faces for Yankees fans.
Here are two position players listed by the MLB insider that donned pinstripes several years ago (packaged with Sherman's analysis):
Ji-Man Choi, Rays
Tampa Bay will not give up on the playoffs, but the Rays are comfortable walking and chewing gum at the same time. In baseball parlance: They’re willing to trade from their major league roster if they see a way to still contend now while especially keeping an eye on future payrolls and talent base. Choi and Yandy Diaz are the kinds of arbitration eligibles the Rays might decide will cost too much in 2023, so why not get assets now? I wonder how many teams would prefer Choi taking playoff at-bats over, say, Benintendi?
3. Garrett Cooper, Marlins
Miami feels a pressure to win as much as possible this year and offense is short already. But Cooper is oft-injured. He is 31. He is a free agent after next season. He is unlikely to be part of whenever Miami has sustained winning. I am biased here because every time I see Cooper, he has superb at-bats. Teams will see his .400 average on balls in play and think his .321 average is unsustainable (Bell, Benintendi and Mancini might also incur that critique). Miami would rather move Jesus Aguilar, a free agent after this season or perhaps even Soler, if a contender were willing to absorb the two years at $24 million left after this season (Soler went on the IL on Friday with a back ailment). I just think Cooper can hit good pitching and would ask the same Choi versus Benintendi question with Cooper versus Bell.
Both those first basemen didn't wear a Yankees uniform for long. Choi was a Yankee for six games in 2017. He's known now as a Yankee killer, one of the most dangerous left-handed hitters in Tampa Bay's lineup.
Cooper stuck around in pinstripes for 13 games, also in 2017. He's been with the Marlins ever since, sent to Miami in the trade for Michael King, a deal that has certainly worked out for the Yankees.
With Anthony Rizzo, DJ LeMahieu and Matt Carpenter on New York's big-league roster, the Yankees don't figure to be a player in the sweepstakes for either of those bats. First base isn't what they need to address before the deadline—it's relievers and outfielders that are circled and underlined on the club's grocery list.
Nonetheless, either of those two could certainly contribute to a contender down the stretch. Cooper is hitting .315/.380/.462 in 69 games this year while Choi has a .855 OPS with seven homers and 36 RBI in 57 games with the Rays.
Cincinnati Reds infielder Brandon Drury was also listed by Sherman, but as a "main candidate" to be moved before the deadline. He was in a category with the likes of Andrew Benintendi, Trey Mancini and Willson Contreras.
Drury had a cup of coffee with the Yankees as well, playing in New York for 18 games in 2018. He's batting .270/.331/.533 with 17 home runs and 45 RBI in 69 games with the rebuilding Reds.
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