The NL Most Underrated Players: Pre-Trade Deadline
(Jey Young/ Ball Boy Blog)
The Most Underrated Players in the NL are a mix of the first year and 2nd players, a few who have been in the MLB for almost ten seasons, and some who just landed extensions.
Welcome to the multi-part series of underrated/overrated players in the NL/AL.
OF Brandon Nimmo, the OPB atop of the Mets lineup and the ability to get on base with hits and walks and him being one of the in-house names that are over-shadowed by all the moves the Mets have made plays into why Nimmo is so underrated.
One should want Nimmo on their team, and as a theme of this series, would I replace them on my favorite team, the Mariners. I would take Nimmo in the corner of a spot in Seattle and atop of the lineup.
Nimmo is actually in the last year of control and likely with the Mets. Nimmo is 29 and would easily be worth a 5yr $60MM deal.
SP Pablo Lopez, Alcantara got the money, but Lopez is pitching extremely well. Alcantara got a 5yr $56MM ext, while Lopez is putting together an equal extension worthy 2022. Both have been in the MLB for the same amount of time; both are two of Miami's young, fantastic arms.
I would love to get Lopez on the Mariners, as would the other 28 clubs in the MLB. Spinnings gems, striking out batters, and just being a force on the mound.
Lopez is worth every penny that Alcantara got. I would argue that the 26yo could get a 7yr, $80MM deal.
OF Adam Duvall, the average and OBP aren't sexy. But he hits for power, and RBI, gets BB a bunch, and scores run for his team.
I have always been a fan of Duvall as a hitter; the Braves are young and have budding stars nearly around the diamond at every position. While the numbers are in power, I do not want Duvall on my team. He fits well with the Braves, and he can stay there.
Duvall, to me, is a good vet to have around for $5-7MM a year.
INF Jean Segura, aka Mean-Jean, is the hitting machine. An OBP monster. One of the few players has produced between H, BA, and OBP for more than a decade. Segura averages 182H per season, a .285BA, and a .330OBP; those are great numbers hence why he got a 5yr deal worth $70MM post the 2017 season when he was an all-star.
I still, to this day, do not understand why we didn't keep Jean in Seattle post-2017, All-Star season, as he was part of the Mitch Haniger trade from AZ, where we sent Ketel Marte. I would love for the Mariners to bring in a Vet like Segura who can play around with the INF.
Segura will be 33 come to the 2022/23 off-season and in line for one more deal. I would project a 3yr, $25-35MM deal for him.
C Keibert Ruiz, the OBP, the consistency behind the plate, is a rookie and younger player still; the hype for young catchers is all in Baltimore, but don't sleep or run on Ruiz.
Ruiz has shown an ability to nail runners on the base while showing good skills in the box and plate. I would need to see a bit more from Ruiz before I fully commit to him as my catcher of the future and give him an extension, especially if I'm the Nationals, as they could benefit from cementing Juan Soto in with an extension first.
OF Harrison Bader, known for his excellent glove work in CF. He possesses elite speed on the bases while also having the ability to hit for power—an actual 20/20 threat.
The 2021 Gold Glove was nothing short of impressive in only 103G played for Bader, as it seems anything with even the slightest amount of air under it was being played by him the in the OF; it also helps that he has Tyler O'Neil and Dylan Carlson flanking him in the corners, both who are good-excellent defenders in their own right.
I am okay without Bader on Mariners for the time being. However, the Cardinals would be wise to lock him up beyond the 2023 season with a 3yr $15MM deal.
SP Eric Lauer gives the Brewers a chance to win every time out, and coming into 2022, he was good at best but has taken a step forward into greatness. He further cements the Brewers rotation as one of the best in baseball.
I would take Lauer as a member of the Mariners, as would the other 29 teams in the MLB, including the Brewers, who have him as part of their great rotation.
Lauer is under team control through 2024, and at his current progression, the 27yo Lauer is in line for a $12-20MM AAV on his next deal if he can maintain his success through 2024.
Closer David Bednar is a gem to watch close games. The Pirates aren't always in but somehow win regardless.
I had no clue who Bednar was until I started this piece, but the 27yo, 35th-round pick of the Padres in 2016 has grinded his way to being one of the most underrated closers in the MLB in 2022. Pittsburg might not win many games, which doesn't give Bednar many opportunities; however, there's a lock and a good chance your team will win when he is in. I would love Bednar on my team locking down games.
Bednar is a late bloomer; he is 27 and under team control via arbitration through 2027. Bednar doesn't need an extension, as he will be team-friendly and bring value.
C Tyler Stephenson has been a joy to watch go to work for the Reds. He is good at calling games, has a good arm, and is well above average with the bat.
The 25yo C is coming into his own in his 2nd year in the MLB. He has shown an ability to get on base and play sounds defense behind the plate, and he could be the answer for the Reds or if they genuinely want to tank another team who could use a young, controllable catcher through 2026.
With him being controlled through arbitration until age 29/30, the deal likely won't happen until then, given his early production and upside profile. He likely will land a 5yr $50MM+ deal when it comes his time.
OF Ian Happ has been one of the few consistence bright spots for the Cubs. This season has been overshadowed in the past by the big-3(Baez, Rizzo, Bryant).
If you could believe it, Happ has been in the MLB for almost five seasons. He was a 1st round pick in the 2015 draft and came up to the MLB post the 2016 world series. Happ had an excellent 2020 season when he finished 18th in the NL MVP vote. Happ has shown to be a capable regular since the 2020 season, with an OBP no lower than .323 and a career average of .340OBP. Yes, I would take Happ in Seattle.
Happ is coming up on Free Agency in 2024 and should push for a 3-5yr $10-15MM AAV deal once he gets there.
C Will Smith, when you're the catch on a team that features MVPs, Cy Young winners, Roy's, it's hard to shine. However, Smith's consistency is next to none behind the plate for the Dodgers.
Smith is another 1st round pick from the 2016 draft by the Dodgers and is yet another testament to the Dodger's ability to develop and bring in talent. 2021 was a full showing for Smith as he played in 130G and showed he could call games, he hit 25HR and posted a .365OBP. Smith is under control through the 2025 season via arbitration.
I would expect the name value and where it is coming from to boost him into the $15-20MM AAV when he gets to free agency.
2B Thairo Estrada has been a model of consistency early in the 2022 season, and on a team like the Giants filled with class acts, big contracts, and big names, you're the new guy at the keystone; it can be tough to catch on.
Estrada is in the 2nd year with the Giants after being a part-time player in 2021 and showing well in 52 games. Now the whole time 2nd basemen for the Giants, the 26yo is proving he was worth being given the shot. Plenty of teams would love a 2nd basemen who is controllable through the 2026 season via arbitration. I would not take Estrada with the Mariners; however, at least 10-15 other teams could use his services.
Estrada has a bit of proof to get a good deal when he hits free agency. However, I would likely give him between $4-7MM AAV.
3B Ryan McMahon, it's challenging to be underrated after signing a 6yr deal; however, when your team brings Kris Bryant to town, you get your extension, and people still don't know your name well enough. We have a problem.
The extension happened for McMahon, and the hot corner is his in Colorado for the foreseeable future. I don't love the track record of errors; however, those came while playing 2B, but the 9errors on the 22' season aren't my favorite. The ability to stay on the field since 2019 is one I like, the power and ability to hit 20HR+/80RBI+ with a.330OBP+, I would take in Seattle at this current time.
2B Jake Cronenworth, even though he has the nickname Crone-zone for his top-notch defensive work. Indeed it's hard to shine when you play on a team with stars.
The 28yo Cronenworth had truly bloomed since his rookie year in 2020 when he finished 2nd in the RoY voting and personally was snubbed of the award. He followed that up with an All-Star appearance and has shown he can play anywhere you put him, and he showed enough that the Padres were able to deal with Adam Frazier after acquiring him last season. With the defensive ability to play 2B, SS, 1B, and play 3B in a pinch, with only 14 career errors, I would love to have him in Seattle, with the ability to get on base at a .333OBP clip.
The Padres will get Cronenworth through the best of his prime as he is under control through the 2025 season and will be 31/32yo come the end of the deal. At that time, I would likely give him $10-15MM.
CF/C, mostly C Daulton Varsho, has been everything and more the D-Backs in 2022. Everything has improved in 2022- the glove and work behind the plate, the bat, the opportunity has been seized.
The 95G sample size in 2021 was enough for the D-backs to give him a full-time role in 2022, and he has not been disappointed with a .335OBP. I don't think I would take him to Seattle as I don't love the fit and the abilities. However, I would bet there are at least 7-to ten teams who would take Varsho either behind the plate or in the OF.
Varsho is controllable through 2026 via arbitration, and come to the end of that time, the now 25yo will be 29/30yo, and depending on how the next few years go, will full dictate the contract the C/OF gets.
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