MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

11 unheralded players who could be had at Deadline

Moore, Valencia, Norris are three pieces that could be on the move

11 unheralded players who could be had at Deadline

Before I romanticize the concept of potential bargain buys in the trade market, I must first provide a public disclaimer that the discreet Trade Deadline deal doesn't always work out. The Dodgers, as an example, grabbed Mat Latos instead of meeting the price tag for David Price or Cole Hamels last year and, well, let's just say they would have been better off with Price or Hamels, OK?

But sometimes there is great value to be had out there. And in a 2016 market especially thin on starting pitching, it's incumbent upon GMs to seek it out.

Peter Bourjos, Phillies
At the start of play on June 6, Bourjos was lugging around a .196/.227/.283 slash line. Since that time, he has an OPS over 1.000. Is that an arbitrary starting point? Absolutely. But raise your hand if you pegged Bourjos to have an OPS that high over any significant stretch of games.

Bourjos is 29, fleet of foot, a plus center fielder and a pending free agent. He's not going to maintain his crazy pace at the plate of late, but you add the encouraging offensive uptick to what was already an athletic profile, and you've got a player who can round out a contending roster.

Some potential fits: Giants, Royals, Nationals, Indians, Cardinals, White Sox

Bourjos' RBI triple in the 6th

Matt Moore, Rays
Moore has pedestrian numbers overall -- a 4.33 ERA, a 1.30 WHIP and a 95 ERA+ in 19 starts after a 5.43 ERA in 12 starts last season -- but a 2.51 ERA and .208/.271/.324 opponents' slash over his past seven starts.

At 27 and just more than two years removed from Tommy John surgery, Moore seems to be settling down and settling in. His modest extension includes team options for 2017 ($7 million), '18 ($9 million) and '19 ($10 million), which means he's extremely valuable to the small-budget Rays, who of course will set the asking price high.

Some potential fits: Rangers, Dodgers, Orioles, Royals, Marlins

Moore's strong start

Melvin Upton Jr. Padres
It's hard to imagine the Padres moving Upton without eating at least some portion of the roughly $23 million still owed to him through the end of 2017, but at least a healthy Upton has played himself back into a usable piece. His offensive performance (106 OPS+) is just north of league average, he's got 16 homers and 20 steals, and his defensive performance is satisfactory in center and strong in left. At minimum, this would be a good fourth-outfield type on a contending club.

Some potential fits: Giants, Royals, Nationals, Indians, Cardinals, White Sox

Upton Jr.'s four-hit game

Jeremy Hellickson, Phillies
The 2011 American League Rookie of the Year Award winner has been a back-of-the-rotation option battling assorted injuries in the time since. But this year, Hellickson has stayed healthy and eaten up 111 2/3 innings while providing essentially league-average output for the rebuilding Phillies. In this market, in particular, there is value in such an arm, and Hellickson has added to his value by posting a 2.90 ERA and .227/.257/.370 opponents' slash over his past five starts.

Some potential fits: Marlins, Orioles, Blue Jays, Tigers, Royals, Rangers

Hellickson's solid outing

Will Smith, Jeremy Jeffress and Carlos Torres, Brewers
The relief market is always replete with possibility this time of year, and this group stands as an attractive alternative to the Yankees and their high-powered (and high-priced) options in Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller. The Brewers don't have to move any of these guys as Smith and Jeffress are in their 20s and under control through 2019, but rebuilding ballclubs have to be opportunistic, and there could be opportunity here to land some nice young pieces.

The Chapman/Miller comparison is especially applicable to Smith, simply because he is left-handed and has looked sharp in the setup role since recovering from a Spring Training knee injury (2.12 ERA, 0.94 WHIP).

Another Brewers reliever to keep an eye on is the 33-year-old Torres, who is arbitration-eligible through 2018. He has a terrific 1.04 WHIP (comparable to that of Chapman) going back to the beginning of June.

Some potential fits: Nationals, Cubs, Giants, Indians, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Mets

Jeffress escapes trouble

Jorge De La Rosa, Rockies
De La Rosa has a 5.50 ERA. Yikes. He pitches his home games in Coors Field and yet has an even worse ERA on the road (6.50). Double-yikes.

But look, the in-season market is often about acquiring the hot hand. De La Rosa, in the final months of his two-year, $25 million contract, has some ugly numbers this season, but he's got a 2.68 ERA in six starts since moving back to the rotation in mid-June.

Some potential fits: Marlins, Orioles, Blue Jays, Tigers, Royals, Rangers, Mets

De La Rosa holds Braves to two

Jonathon Niese, Pirates
After Pirates GM Neal Huntington publicly -- via Pittsburgh radio -- voiced his regret over the Neil Walker trade that brought Niese to Pittsburgh (Huntington later apologized to Niese and said his words came out more harsh than intended), a parting of ways seems likely. And if the Bucs land a fringe prospect or two for Niese -- or just designate him for assignment and let some other club claim him and the two team options attached to him for 2017 and '18 -- the guy is not far removed from a 2012-14 timeframe in which he was a league-average arm delivering more than six innings per start.

Some potential fits: Mets, Marlins, Orioles, Blue Jays, Tigers, Royals, Rangers

Niese's scoreless relief

Danny Valencia, A's
Despite some solid-to-strong offensive showings along the way, Valencia has already played for six teams since debuting with the Twins in 2010. He does not come equipped with a reputation of a team-first player, and that makes him a tough sell in the midseason marketplace, even though he's carrying a satisfactory .304/.354/.490 slash line this season.

But I'm going to include Valencia here in the hope that his recent demotion to the bench in favor of rookie infielder Ryon Healy brings out the best in Valencia's attitude and that other clubs take notice. He doesn't add defensive value, but he packs a power punch and still has another year of team control attached to him. For what it's worth, Valencia did send out this tweet in the wake of Healy's first home run:

Some potential fits: Mets, Astros, Indians

Valencia's three-run homer

Derek Norris, Padres
Jonathan Lucroy is the market's big fish behind the dish -- an All-Star backstop with big offensive numbers, leadership qualities and a very reasonable contract that runs through 2017. But the Brewers, rightly, have maintained a high asking price for him.

The Padres, meanwhile, have been shopping Norris for a while, with a lot less attention. He's not part of the long-term plan in San Diego (Austin Hedges is considered the catcher of the future there), but he's under wraps for two more arbitration years after this one and he's only 27. Norris had a brutal start to the year at the plate, but he's got an OPS of .797 dating back to the start of June (similar to Lucroy's .808 mark in that span).

Some potential fits: Indians, White Sox, Astros, Rangers, Dodgers

Norris' solo big fly

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.