Sunday, May 19, 2024

White Sox Sign Tommy Pham: A Puzzling Move for Both Sides

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According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the White Sox have signed free-agent outfielder Tommy Pham to a minor-league deal. It is an odd fit for both Pham and the White Sox.

Pham is a ten-year MLB veteran who helped the Arizona Diamondbacks reach the World Series last season. Despite being a key contributor on a team that fell just three games shy of a World Series title, Pham went unemployed for the next five months. The 36-year-old is now going from a pennant winner to arguably the worst team in baseball.

Pham is out of options which is why he signed a minor league deal. The minor league deal allows him to begin the season in the minor leagues without having to clear waivers. The 36-year-old will need to shake off some rust after missing spring training. According to Rosenthal the White Sox plan to call him up once he feels ready.

Chris Getz has already shown he is willing to sign veterans such as Robbie Grossman and Mike Clevinger to help the White Sox compete. It’s a team that is in desperate need of reinforcements. Through 15 games the offense has been shut an MLB leading out five times. During that stretch, they are averaging just 2.1 runs per game.

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Pham is far from the player he once was at this stage in his career but he has still shown a knack for getting on base. In 2021 he ranked in the top 5 percent of the MLB with a 13.9% walk rate. Last season he posted a 9.8% walk rate which was still above the MLB average. The White Sox could use someone like him in the lineup to help string together some more professional-looking at-bats for an offense that has little margin for error.

However, it is a head-scratching move for the White Sox. The team has already invested in a handful of outfielders. In left field is the highest-paid player in team history, Andrew Benintendi. In right field is Robbie Grossman, who currently leads the team in walks and was just added to a minor league deal of his own. The White Sox also acquired 26-year-old Dominic Fletcher via trade this offseason to see if he can be a long-term solution in right field. Fletcher is currently holding down the fort in center field while Luis Robert Jr. is on the shelf with an injury.

The White Sox also have Zach Deloach and Oscar Colas in the minor leagues that Pham is now blocking. Adding an aging short-term rental does not make sense for the White Sox in a season that is supposed to be about evaluating talent inside the organization. The White Sox could replace Pham with Kevin Pillar as the team’s fourth outfielder. However, Chris Getz’s goal was to improve the defense this offseason and Pham’s defense graded worse than Pillars last season.

The White Sox could just be looking for another veteran presence in the clubhouse to help turn things around. He could also be a potential trade candidate at the deadline if he gets off to a hot start. But seeing that he has no protection in the lineup and went unsigned all offseason that seems unlikely. Andrew Baggarly of the Athletic reported that the Giants were not willing to touch him after he slapped Joc Peterson over a fantasy football dispute last season. Pham was also stabbed outside a strip club in 2020, but according to San Diego Police, the altercation occurred after he asked some strangers to get away from his car.

Pham owns a career .259/.351/.435 slash line with 130 home runs and an 18.1 WAR. Last season he hit 16 home runs and 68 RBIs with a .774 OPS in 129 games between stints with the Mets and Diamondbacks. The Cardinals selected Pham in the 16th round of the 2006 MLB Amateur Draft. He spent four and a half seasons in St. Louis before being traded to the Tampa Bay Rays. Since then he has spent time with the Padres, Reds, Red Sox, Mets, and Diamondbacks. The best season of his career came in 2017 with the Cardinals. He set career highs with 23 home runs, 73 RBIs, a .306 batting average, and a .931 OPS. 

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Dr. Steven Sallie
Dr. Steven Sallie
Apr 17, 2024 6:07 pm

I wonder what the Chicago and Miami owners have in common.

Smoky Burgess
Smoky Burgess
Apr 15, 2024 7:24 pm

I suggest the White Sox start “pressing” instead of enjoying the game.

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