Cardinals Trade Tommy Pham to Rays

This is the player who was traded.
(Photo: Charles Edward Miller)

In somewhat of a surprise move, the Cardinals have traded outfielder Tommy Pham this morning. In somewhat of another surprise, the team acquiring Pham hasn’t added him for the purposes of contending this season. While the Tampa Bay Rays haven’t been mathematically eliminated from a place in the playoffs, their chances of earning even a Wild Card berth are effectively zero at this point. Pham has value to the organization beyond 2018, though.

Even as rumors continue to circle around Chris Archer, the Rays have added a much needed outfielder not only for the remainder of the season, but also for the future. In trading away Pham, the Cardinals appear to be receiving multiple minor-league depth pieces.

Rays receive:

  • Tommy Pham
  • $500K international bonus-pool money

Cardinals receive:

In 2017, Pham overcame a lengthy injury history and a chronic eye condition to put up a .306/.411/.520 line with a 148 wRC+ and 6.1 WAR after spending the first month of the season in the minors. This year hasn’t been as good for Pham. He was installed as the starting center fielder, but his batting line hasn’t carried over. He’s recorded a .248/.331/.399 line that, after accounting for park and league, is essentially average. That said, his .369 xwOBA, per Baseball Savant, indicates a lot of Pham’s troubles are bad luck and that the quality of contact has still been good. The projections seem to agree: Pham is expected to put up a 114 wRC+ the rest of the way.

Pham is 30 years old but won’t be arbitration-eligible until after this season, keeping his salary in line with the Rays’ desires. Pham’s bat should play in a corner-outfield spot, and his defense should be above-average there as Tampa readies itself for next season.

Of the three prospects the Cardinals are receiving, Williams was ranked the highest among Rays at No. 17 heading into the season. He put up impressive numbers while repeating Double-A in 2017, but the 22-year-old hasn’t had the same success in Triple-A this year. Cabrera is a 21-year-old lefty starter in Double-A who has a good fastball and put up decent numbers this season. Roel Ramirez is a righty reliever striking out 27% of batters in Double-A. The trade should open up more playing time in St. Louis for two young players: Harrison Bader, who has shown a lot of promise defensively with an inconsistent bat (particularly against righties), and Tyler O’Neill, who has 29 homers in 307 plate appearances between Triple-A and the big leagues.

Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
5 years ago

But why though?

5 years ago
Reply to  Apollo57

I saw a throwaway line today that Pham has said some things that management didn’t like. There was an offseason piece where Pham said he was less than thrilled at being held in the minors so long and he also was unhappy that the Cardinals didn’t reward him with a big deal after last year’s breakout.

5 years ago
Reply to  Moelicious

He did say some things! Specifically, he said these things: “Early in 2014, after being leapfrogged by better-regarded prospects such as Randal Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty and Oscar Taveras, Pham says he called Gary LaRocque, the Cardinals’ farm director, and demanded his release. “I said, ‘You know what, I’m the best mother—— on this team, and you guys don’t even know it,’” he recalls. “I said those exact words. They told me things happen, I’ll get some at bats. I just had to wear it.”

SI talked with him for a good article. Search and you’ll find

5 years ago
Reply to  t

So they traded him four years later for peanuts? Not even almonds or cashew nuts. Peanuts.

5 years ago
Reply to  t

Pham’s got an interesting story, and one has to admire (or at least pay attention to) a guy who brushes off a batting cage injury by saying it didn’t hurt as bad as when his dad stabbed him. Still, Pham’s version of his story just typically leaves out how much his development was sidetracked by constant injuries.

And some of the things management probably doesn’t like about Pham is what he says about management, but he also says stuff about his teammates. And it appears that the front office has decided to put Bader in CF and moving him to a corner time-share, which he probably wouldn’t take well.

5 years ago
Reply to  Moelicious

He should be. The way that the Cardinals have treated him in the past few years is absolutely criminal.

5 years ago
Reply to  LHPSU

You mean, making him earn playing time and then not extending a 30 year old flash in the pan, and eventually trading him for younger pieces who probably will be worth a higher WAR moving forward to a time when they will compete again?

5 years ago
Reply to  Kevbot034

I think the Cards have shown this year that they have been a **** sandwich for a while now. BTW, who has produced better – Pham, Piscotty or Grichuk? Think Pham may have had a point.

Deacon Drakemember
5 years ago
Reply to  Moelicious

That’s an understatement. He’s been blackballed by the Cards for years and only surfaced last year when the Matt Adams to LF experiment failed. The never saw as more than a platoon bat, and he voiced that this year. Surprised nobody ever ran a “Free Pham” campaign, but I guess they were too busy watching Dexter.

5 years ago
Reply to  Deacon Drake

Who keeps down voting these comments saying the Cards haven’t treated Pham well? I bet it’s Cards fans.

5 years ago
Reply to  jcutiger

JC its gotta be. The dude has equalled or outperformed every “highly regarded prospect” when he got the chance. I like watching Piscotty rn but Pham even in a down year has just vindicated himself over and over. This team is a shitshow rn.