By: Noah Wright
At the MLB trade deadline, there is obviously going to be tons of players moving back and forth. Some might be star players for top MLB prospects. But not every single trade is going to include a guy with multiple years of control remaining. These kind of players are called rentals. Most of the time, a team acquires them for the remainder of the season, and let's them walk in free agency, unless both sides are interested in a contract. This upcoming deadline will see some very good rental players on the move, so who are the top rentals available right now?
- Will Smith:
Aside from the Dodgers catcher, or the Fresh Prince Of Bel Air, the Giants’ left handed relief pitcher is another popular Will Smith in California. Smith is pitching line an all-star for the SF Giants this season. After taking over the closer role last year, he’s been one of the most dominant lefty relief pitchers in the MLB. This season, Smith is pitching to the tune of a 2.12 ERA, 2.22 FIP, .809 WHIP through 29 and two thirds innings. He has struck out 13.3 per 9 innings, and has walked just 2.1 batters per 9. His K/BB ratio sits at an elite 6.29. Home runs haven’t been an issue either. He has a .9 HR/9.
- Neil Walker:
Walker has been one of the best small signings of the season. Although Walker has missed most of June, he’s expected to be activated soon. On the season, the former Pirate has a .295/.375/.443 batting line, 4 long balls, a 125 OPS+, and 122 wRC+. Plus Walker makes hard contact 38.6% of the time, while making soft contact at a minimum 15.8% of the time. While Walker isn’t any sort of gold glover, his position flexibility can provide value to any team. He’s mainly manned 1B this season, but his primary position for years has been second base. He has also played a handful of games at third base last season with the Yankees, and in right field in NY.
- Howie Kendrick:
Now this kind of depends where the Nationals sit at the deadline, but unless they go on a hot streak, they’ll likely sell off some of their small pieces like they did at the deadline last season. In 197 plate appearances, Kendrick has batted for an extremely strong .339/.391/.603 batting line. He has already blasted 12 long balls, which would be the most long balls he’s hit since 2013. He has an extremely good looking 150 OPS+, and 152 wRC+. Kendrick rarely makes soft contact, having an 11.1% soft contact rate to pair with an extremely strong 43.8% hard hit rate. Like Walker, Kendrick’s primary position for many years was second base, but recently he’s seen more time at third base, firstbase, and in left field.
- Pablo Sandoval:
Sandoval has been a nice surprise for the Giants this season. In a part time role, the Panda has a .286/.318/.565 batting line. Plus he has a 125 wRC+ and 129 OPS+. Sandoval has also seen a bounce back on the defensive side. At both third base and first base, he has 1 DRS, and a .1 dWAR.
- Jose Abreu:
Abreu might no longer be the threat he once was, but he’s still an extremely useful asset to any team. In 308 plate appearances, Abreu has a .263/.305/.509 batting line 113 OPS+, and 111 wRC+. His power hasn’t seen a large dip, evident by his 17 long balls, and .246 ISO. Although Abreu might be more appealing to an AL club. The White Sox 1B has had below average defensive results at first this season (-1 DRS, -1 UZR, -.5 dWAR).
- Anthony Rendon:
Now his really depends if the Nationals are still interested in an extension, but seeing as they haven’t been able to meet on common ground yet, I doubt they’ll meet at an agreement. However, even if the Nationals have to send off Rendon, they’ll likely get a Machado-like haul back for him. Rendon currently has video game like numbers through 258 plate appearances. He has a .314/.407/.655 batting line, and a 166 OPS+/wRC+. He’s even not a bad baserunner with his 1.2 BSR. Rendon has made hard contact over 50% of the time this season at 52.7, while making soft contact less than 15% at 13.2. Another notable fact is that Rendon has lowered his groundball % to 30.2%, which would represent a career low. Although Rendon has been about average with the glove this season, sitting at -2 DRS, -.3 UZR, and -.1 dWAR.
- Jose Iglesias, Scooter Gennett, Derek Dietrich:
I rounded a handful of the Reds infielders into this for a few reasons. One, they’ll likely trade off at least 1 of them. Afterall, they are rentals, and the Reds might want to move Nick Senzel back to the infield. Let's first start out with Jose Iglesias. Iglesias was signed by the Reds on a minor league deal, and it's more than paid out. Through 241 PA’s, the former Tigers’ shortstop is batting for a strong .291/.332/.423 line. While his 92 OPS+ isn’t all that great, it’s really his glove that makes him valuable. He has 6 DRS, 2.7 UZR, and a .9 dWAR.
The next infielder the Reds might look to ship off is Scooter Gennett. Gennett hasn’t played a game all this year yet after having a right groin strain before the regular season started. Although Gennett has been an extremely valuable batter the past 2 seasons for Cincinnati. Between 2017 and 2018, Gennett posted a .303/.351/.508 batting line, 50 home runs, and a 123 OPS+. Although he’s no defensive whiz like Iglesias is, Gennett can hold his own at second.
Another gem the Reds found on a minor league deal has been Derek Dietrich. Although Dietrich has faltered as of late (.156/.309/.267 batting line in June), Dietrich still has a solid batting line of .232/.350/.589. Plus his OPS+ of 135 is elite. Dietrich might be best used as a platoon bat for a team that may/may not trade for him. In his career, Dietrich has a .256/.345/.450 line vs RHP, but a .230/.296/.365 line vs LHP. 2019 Has been about the same with a .238/.365/.639 line vs RHP, but a .190/.227/.238 line vs LHP. Dietrich, like Scooter, isn’t any sort of gold glover, but he definitely can be an asset since he can provide solid defense at second base, third base, and first base, and while its not suggested, he can play left field if need be.
Honorable Mentions: Corey Dickerson, Melky Cabrera (PIT), Todd Frazier, Tanner Roark (CIN)