With the playoffs upon us, the offseason has already started for 22 teams.
Expect a flurry of free agent signings and trades this winter as teams try to improve or rebuild for next season.
Sometimes, a few young role players acquired via trade can be just what a team needs to take the next step towards the postseason.
Here is each MLB team’s most underrated trade chip heading into the offseason.
Note: These are listed by division and are in no particular ranked order.
Alfredo Simon has been around a few years, but still hasn’t settled into a defined role with the Baltimore Orioles.
However, he may be someone that other teams may inquire about this offseason.
He has experience as a starter, middle reliever and closer.
This pitching versatility could make him an interesting catch.
The Boston Red Sox starting pitching rotation was decimated by injuries this season.
Andrew Miller was supposed to take this season to further develop at Triple-A, but he was thrust into action this year.
He had an impressive 6-3 record, but a not so stellar 5.54 ERA. He has struggled with walks his whole career.
He would definitely be a reclamation project, but could be worth the risk, especially if the Red Sox decide to roll the dice on the pitchers returning from injury.
Eduardo Nunez has one of the most difficult tasks in the major leagues: being a backup infielder on the New York Yankees, who have an All-Star at all four infield positions.
Nunez actually saw extended time this time due to Alex Rodriguez’s injury troubles.
He struggled slightly with the glove, but handled his own with the bat.
He could be looked at as a solid bench addition for some teams.
Dan Johnson had one of the most clutch hits in recent memory, and yet he didn’t even make the postseason roster for the Tampa Bay Rays.
That’s because he hit a paltry .119 this season in 31 games.
Johnson has good power, which can most likely keep him in this game for a while as a power bat off the bench.
He may got the Matt Stairs route and become a National League pinch-hitter, trying to crush a home run every time up.
Dewayne Wise is suited perfectly to be a fourth outfielder on an NL team.
With the Toronto Blue Jays at the end of this season, he only managed a .125 batting average.
But his defense in the outfield can be very valuable to a team, especially late in the game.
He would be a good find for an NL team, even if he’s back with the Florida Marlins.
Brent Lillibridge had career-highs in almost all the major offensive categories this season for the Chicago White Sox.
While his offense has improved, his versatility on defense makes him a valuable ballplayer.
He projects well as an NL ballplayer, so a trade would make sense.
He has played every position except catcher in his career.
Shelley Duncan has some raw power.
In limited action the past two seasons, Duncan has hit 22 home runs and even been surprisingly adequate in the outfield.
The Cleveland Indians have a logjam in the outfield, so Duncan could be a trade target.
He’s another guy that could serve as a power bat off the bench.
Ryan Raburn has put together a solid career so far for the Detroit Tigers.
However, the team views him as merely a part time player.
There may be a team out there willing to make Raburn an everyday player.
He’s versatile defensively, so could be a player that gets 600+ at-bats while starting at multiple positions.
This one would be a tough call to pull the trigger, but the Kansas City Royals could make Lorenzo Cain available.
The emergence of Melky Cabrera and Alex Gordon this season should hopefully solidify two of the three outfield spots for the Royals for a while.
Other teams may want to take a chance on Cain, who is still young. He could possibly net some major league ready talent.
But in all likelihood, the Royals won’t be making too many deals this offseason as they continue to nurture their young talent.
Phil Dumatrait basically came out of nowhere to have a decent season for the Minnesota Twins.
He didn’t pitch in the big leagues in 2010 after limited experience from 2007-09.
With Jose Mijares as the main lefty in the Twins bullpen, Dumatrait becomes expendable.
Relief pitching is such a volatile position from year-to-year, so don’t be surprise to see many of these pitchers, including Dumatrait, on the move.
Peter Bourjos had a very good year for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, including leading the American League in triples with 11.
But there’s one problem for him: Mike Trout.
Trout is only 20, but he is the future in center field for the Angels.
The team could get some serious value right now for Bourjos in a trade.
Though he didn’t record a decision in 26 appearances, Jerry Blevins was very effective for the Oakland Athletics this season.
A 2.86 ERA, even in a limited sample, is not too shabby.
The A’s always seem to have an abundance of relief pitchers, so maybe they could package Blevins and another player for some offense.
He showed in 2010 that he can be durable for an entire season.
Though Jason Vargas has had losing seasons each of the past two years, he’s had the misfortune of pitching for the offensively challenged Seattle Mariners.
He was a workhorse this season, pitching 201 innings as well as three complete game shutouts.
The Mariners may rely on younger pitching prospects, and may look to trade Vargas this offseason.
He’s a solid No. 3 or 4 starter, and would benefit from a team that gives him some run support.
David Murphy has earned an everyday job, but the Texas Rangers may not be able to provide him that next season.
Murphy plays the game the right way but unfortunately hasn’t had a full season to prove himself.
He hits righties very well, but sometimes struggles against lefties.
A Murphy trade could bring in some young talent.
Eric O’Flaherty came into his own this season, recording a miniscule 0.98 ERA in 78 appearances.
So why would the Atlanta Braves make him available?
Because they have another talented and younger lefty in Johnny Venters.
O’Flaherty would garner much attention if made available.
The Braves are coming off a major collapse, so expect some heavy turnover of their roster.
John Baker only played in 16 games this season for the Florida Marlins after recovering from Tommy John surgery.
That’s right, he was a catcher forced to undergo Tommy John surgery.
Though his numbers have steadily decreased, he’s a solid option as a backup catcher.
He’ll be extra motivated to get back on the field for a full season.
Nick Evans had several cups of coffee in the big leagues before this season, but always appeared overmatched.
However, he went through a stretch to close out the season where he was on fire with the bat.
He displayed decent power and even played a mean first base.
When the New York Mets are fully healthy (a true rarity), Evans really doesn’t fit in, and he likely could be dealt this offseason.
In his first extended action, John Mayberry has shown a ton of potential.
He cracked 15 home runs and 17 doubles.
However, where does he fit in long term?
Mayberry is a nice stopgap until prospect Domonic Brown is ready for full time action.
Whether or not the Philadelphia Phillies think that is next season will determine what they do with Mayberry.
Wilson Ramos emerged as the everyday catcher for the Washington Nationals, which makes Jesus Flores expendable.
Flores’ problem is that he just can’t stay healthy.
Maybe another tam would be willing to bring him in as a backup with the possibility of competing for a starting spot.
He’s an offensive-minded catcher, in which there aren’t too many these days.
Logan Ondrusek is downright intimidating on the mound with his 6-foot-8 inch, 230-pound frame.
He’s had back-to-back impressive seasons as a middle reliever for the Cincinnati Reds.
He may be given a chance as a regular setup man via a trade.
He may even be a closer in the making, though this offseason will be ripe with closers on the market.
Tyler Colvin was not too long ago in the conversation for NL Rookie of the Year in 2010.
However, he was the typical case of a sophomore slump for the Chicago Cubs.
A change of scenery may do him wonders in a place where he can work through his mistakes.
He’s not the strongest defensive player, but there is still a little pop left in that bat.
Wesley Wright saw very limited time this season for the Houston Astros.
But there still appears to be something there.
It’s always an added plus to be left-handed since they tend to get more opportunities than righties.
Wright’s 1.50 ERA in 23 appearances may open a few eyes around the league.
With the emergence of Jonathan LuCroy behind the dish for the Milwaukee Brewers, George Kottaras could become a trade target.
Some teams may view him as a catcher that deserves significant playing time, especially since he’s a left-handed hitter.
He’s arbitration eligible but likely won’t be due to a huge raise, if any.
He’s definitely a solid option for a backup.
After being the workhorse starter for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2009, the last two years have been anything but enjoyable for Ross Ohlendorf.
He finished 1-11 last season, and struggled to an 8.15 ERA in just nine starts this year.
All of a sudden, he’s become the odd man out in Pittsburgh after the emergence of some talented young starting pitchers and with more on the way.
He may return to form with a change of scenery.
Let’s be honest: The likelihood that Albert Pujols signs anywhere else than with the St. Louis Cardinals is rather slim.
Though the Cubs might be major players, Pujols is a Cardinal through and through.
As a result, Allen Craig may not have a role with the team next year. He’s more of a first baseman than an outfielder, and did fill in nicely when Pujols went on the disabled list.
Based on his offensive performance, another team may look at him as an everyday first baseman and pull the trigger on a trade.
Ryan Roberts had a career year this season for the overachieving Arizona Diamondbacks.
But Paul Goldschmidt has proven he belongs at third base for this team long term.
Roberts can play a variety of positions, so may find a job as a super-utility player who find his at-bats at multiple positions.
However, he’s all of a sudden 31 years old after a few middling professional seasons.
Ian Stewart had a lost season, plain and simple.
The Colorado Rockies third baseman hit just .156 and found himself back in the minor leagues.
His power disappeared, and he just wasn’t himself.
The good thing he’s got going for him is that he’ll only be 27 at the start of the 2012 season, so another team in need of infield help could come calling.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are in heavy financial troubles, so a firesale may be in order.
Hong Chi Kuo has looked great the past few seasons as the team’s bullpen lefty, so their other lefty, Scott Elbert, could be on the trading block.
He posted a 2.47 ERA in 43 appearances last season.
Lefty relievers are coveted commodities, so the Dodgers may net a prospect or two if they deal Elbert.
Chris Denorfia is a typical platoon player, though platoons aren’t as common as they were in the past.
Denorfia hit .277 for the San Diego Padres this year, facing mostly left-handed pitching.
He’s by no means a run producer, but he also played on a team that didn’t score many runs.
He’s a prime candidate to be traded this offseason.
The window of opportunity for Emmanuel Burriss is running out.
Though he’s shown good speed and defense, he hasn’t really hit much in his time with the San Francisco Giants.
Brandon Crawford took strides forward this season, placing Burriss even further down on the depth chart.
Freddy Sanchez is also expected to be ready for spring training, leaving Burriss with no role on the team for now, in which case a trade becomes a possibility.