Posted on December 6, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
No team has been busier on the trade front this offseason than the San Diego Padres, and they show no signs of slowing down. On Friday, the Padres pulled off another trade, acquiring outfielder Tommy Pham and versatile prospect Jake Cronenworth from the Tampa Bay Rays for outfielder Hunter Renfroe, infield prospect Xavier Edwards, and a player to be named later.
Pham is undoubtedly the key player in the deal. He has emerged as one of the best two-way outfielders in recent years while playing for both the Cardinals and Rays. He’s coming off a season in which he hit .273 with an OPS of .818, contributing 21 home runs and a career-high 33 doubles. He will likely take over for Renfroe in right field. Pham provides a little less power than Renfroe but hits for more average and should be an upgrade defensively. The trade is telling because Pham is only under team control for two more seasons while Renfroe has four more years until free agency. That’s a strong indication that the Padres are moving into win-now mode.
The addition of Pham comes on the heels of trades to acquire starting pitcher Zach Davies, infielder Jurickson Profar, and young outfielder Trent Grisham. Davies is an upgrade to the middle of San Diego’s rotation while Profar is an option to play second base for the Padres. Those are also moves aimed at trying to compete in 2020.
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San Diego also added an interesting prospect in Cronenworth, who is a legitimate two-way player. He’s a shortstop who hit .334 with an OPS of .949 at triple-A last season. As a pitcher, he was used as an “opener” last season, tossing 7.1 scoreless innings in triple-A. Whether he finds a role with the Padres in 2020 remains to be seen, but he’s surely someone to watch in the future.
Meanwhile, the Rays have essentially exchanged Pham for Renfroe, who will take over as Tampa’s primary left fielder. Renfroe has hit 85 home runs over the last three season and his power will be a welcomed addition to Tampa’s lineup. He should pair well with right fielder Austin Meadows as the team’s main power sources. However, Renfroe is prone to strikeouts and sometimes struggles to make contact, hitting just .216 this past season.
For the small-market Rays, this trade also has a money-saving component to it. Renfroe still has one more year before he reaches arbitration, so his salary will remain relatively low for at least a couple more years. Pham, on the other hand, made $4.1 million last season and would be considerably more expensive in arbitration over the next two seasons given his performance in recent years.
Finally, the Rays add an intriguing prospect in Edwards, who was the 38th overall pick in the 2018 Draft. He’s a strong defensive shortstop with great speed who also started to come around as a hitter this past season. He’s still more than a year away from playing in the majors, but he has a high ceiling and could end up being the most impactful player involved in this trade.
On the surface, this seems like a fair trade that should work out for both teams. The Rays save a little money and add power to their lineup despite giving up the versatility that Pham brings. Meanwhile, the Padres get a player in Pham who is better able than Renfroe to help them win now. The teams also exchanged prospects who will both have a chance to make an impact in the majors, although the Rays got the prospect with more upside. Of course, it’ll take a few years until we know which team got the better of this trade.