Last summer, Zack Greinke was the big fish at the trade deadline. A legitimate ace who could make a difference in the playoffs, Greinke was the guy everyone wanted, and the Los Angeles Angels eventually coughed up three players -- including 2013's breakthrough shortstop, Jean Segura -- to rent Greinke's services for the final two months of the year. Other high-profile acquisitions included Hanley Ramirez, Hunter Pence and Ryan Dempster, as teams loaded up with big names for the stretch run. However, in looking back at how the remainder of the season played out, none of those names turned out to be the most important acquisition of the deadline; that title goes to Marco Scutaro, and he should be a lesson for buyers this month.
When the Rockies traded Scutaro to the Giants on July 27, he was hitting just .271/.324/.361, mediocre numbers for a hitter playing anywhere, much less one who got to spend half of his time playing at altitude in the most hitter-friendly ballpark in the majors. At 36 years old, Scutaro looked like he was just done as a big leaguer. His defense limited him to second base; he'd never hit for any power; and as a .270 hitter who didn't walk much, he looked like a utility guy off the bench at best.
Of course, Scutaro turned out to be the perfect buy-low candidate. He went on to put up a .362/.385/.473 line in 61 regular-season games with the Giants, and was named NLCS MVP en route to helping San Francisco win the World Series.
For teams who want to try to repeat what the Giants did with Scutaro last year, here are a few players worth going after, even though they aren't that young and their first-half performance doesn't inspire a great deal of confidence.
Shaun Marcum, RHP | New York Mets
Marcum, once an excellent pitcher in Toronto, has seen his career derailed by shoulder problems, and he's currently dealing with both neck and shoulder tightness that could land him back on the disabled list. At 31 years old and with a fastball that now averages just 85.3 mph, along with his current 5.03 ERA, it's easy to see Marcum as a washed-up has-been that doesn't have the stuff to get big league hitters out anymore.