1. Tommy Pham, OF Tampa Bay Rays
Alright, so we reach the end and it is time for some confessions. First, the numbering of these players from slots 1-10 wasn’t supposed to mean anything. These are just 10 guys I thought of and the order in which they show up is meaningless.
The other thing I would like to admit is that what I just told you is 100 true… for numbers 2-10. But Tommy Pham is actually my number 1 trade target this off-season. And yes, I understand the logistics of it. Adding another outfielder is tough.
But as we discussed with Eddie Rosario and Kyle Schwarber, it is still possible to make work. Let’s start with a question with the simplest answer: why is Tommy Pham going to be available? He’s a good player under contract and the Rays are a good team.
The answer? He is starting to get expensive, at least for the Rays. Pham is projected to earn $8.6 million next season. The Rays have 9 other arbitration-eligible players, totaling roughly $28 million of projected salary next season. Yes, there are some easy non-tender candidates but let’s be honest: the Rays are pretty cheap.
Trading Pham helps them recoup Major League value as well as add payroll flexibility going into the off-season. Plus, we couldn’t have a Mariners trade list and not have a Rays player make an appearance.
Now let’s get to why the Mariners may be interested in Pham. At 32-years-old and just 2-years of club control remaining, he doesn’t seem like an obvious fit for Seattle. But Pham is also a really good player, posting fWAR’s of 6.2, 4.1, and 3.3 the past 3 seasons.
He takes walks at an above-average clip, doesn’t strike out a ton, has 20-25 home run pop and has stolen 65 bases the past 3 seasons. His career slash line of .277/.373/.472 is outstanding and despite him exiting his athletic prime, Pham did hit .273/.369/.450 in 2019.
The big concern comes defensively as his productivity in the outfield has fallen each of the past 3 seasons. Pham was still about league average overall, but his outfielder jump metric was in the 23rd percentile, suggesting there is possibly a positioning tweak that could help.
Pham did rank in the 82 percentile in both hard-hit percentage and average exit velocity, leaving little doubt the bat will be just fine. Pham is an offensive threat that can hurt in a multitude of ways. If you think the defense is salvageable, he may be the most underrated player in baseball. So yeah, I think that is a good thing to add.
As for finding a deal that works, we find a tough sticking area. There isn’t an obvious line to draw on this deal unless the Rays are interested in using some of their prospect depth to acquire Mitch Haniger or Mallex Smith in such a deal.
But remember, we aren’t looking for the actually trades that make sense. Today, we are just looking at names who could be available this winter who we wouldn’t automatically assume is a fit with the Mariners.
All 10 of these names in this series have some obvious flaws behind them and none are likely to send the fanbase into a frenzy. But all bring value to the team for at least the first half of 2020 and all are short-term enough to not block any major prospects coming down the line.
Time will tell us what the Mariners will do this off-season. But if any of the names listed on these two lists come to town, I would be pretty excited.