Quick Thoughts About the Tommy Pham Trade

As I knew would happen, I was finishing up taking my son to the orthodontist this morning when the first (only?) trade news broke.  Tommy Pham had been dealt to the Tampa Bay Rays and Chris Archer wasn’t coming back to complete the deal.  So, being that this news is only 30 minutes old, let me channel Dan Buffa and try to put together a piece before the ink is dry.  (Seriously, he’s probably already got an article out there.)

  1. On the face of it, this was more about clearing room than getting talent.  Our prospect guy Colin Garner will be along soon to talk about the three prospects (outfielder Justin Williams, LHP Genesis Cabrera, RHP Roel Ramirez), but none of them are necessarily the cream of Tampa Bay’s crop.  They probably will have value and I don’t think they just gave away Pham, but I think they wanted to clear some of the outfield logjam and this was the easiest way to go about it.  They weren’t going to give up on Marcell Ozuna and even if they wanted to deal him there wouldn’t be any takers for Dexter Fowler, so if players like Harrison Bader, Tyler O’Neill, Oscar Mercado, or Jose Adolis Garcia (we call him JAG) are going to get any regular time in St. Louis, Pham had to be the one to go.
  2. The Cardinals seem to believe 2017 was the fluke.  There’s no doubt Pham is a talented player, but he’s never been able to be consistently good except for last year.  There’s usually injury issues or eye problems or the like that are the cause, but look at Pham’s numbers this season.  The 14 homers are nice, but the .248/.331/.399 is a long way from last year’s breakout campaign.  Pham is a 30-year-old outfielder as well and expecting him to rebound to those levels in 2019 and 2020 is possible, but I don’t know that it’s as likely as this is what we’ll see going forward.  It’s a gamble, especially because you know that Pham plays much better when he’s got a chip on his shoulder and this will be a huge one, but it’s one the Cards felt safe taking.
  3. There’s no such thing as too much pitching depth.  We’ve seen it this year as the entire starting Memphis rotation is now in the big leagues.  In this trade and in the Luke Voit trade, the Cardinals got players that don’t have to be on the 40-man, that still have control, but could contribute in a year or so or even in September this season.  Both of the pitchers acquired are AA level guys that could possibly be part of the next wave of middle relief help that the Cardinals will need in the future.
  4. This might not be the last deal involving an outfielder.  The Cardinals added Williams in this deal, who will go to Memphis to play.  The general thought is that O’Neill will come up to the bigs, but I don’t know that St. Louis is going to want him to play center.  If he doesn’t, and given that Mike Shildt is very much sticking with a lineup, O’Neill becomes the fourth outfielder.  Is that the best use of him?  Would someone like JAG or Mercado fill that role better?  They definitely could at least fill that role if the Cards got something they liked for O’Neill.  Given that he and Carson Kelly sat out last night, there’s still the possibility that there is more to come.

There will be better analysis soon and I look forward to reading the articles and comments that will be pouring out this morning.  Hopefully we’re back with other trade reactions before 3 PM!

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