Tommy Pham agrees to deal with Reds

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — After starting Spring Training by trading away several players, the re-working of the Reds’ roster has brought several new additions. The latest move by Cincinnati came late Wednesday, when the club agreed to terms on a one-year contract with free-agent outfielder Tommy Pham.

The deal, which includes a mutual option for 2023, is pending a physical. The club has not confirmed the deal.

Pham, a right-handed hitter with some power, should likely slot into a share of left field with lefty-hitting Jake Fraley. The rest of the outfield includes Nick Senzel in center field and Tyler Naquin in right field, with several contenders vying for reserve roles.

It was a tough couple of seasons heading into free agency for Pham, who turned 34 earlier this month. He missed about half of the pandemic-shortened 2020 schedule with the Padres, fracturing his left hamate bone along the way. He then was the victim of an offseason stabbing that required more than 100 stitches and intense rehab.

The good news for Pham is that he was healthy enough to play 155 games for San Diego in 2021, though his numbers were not on the level of what he produced earlier in his career.

Pham hit .229/.340/.383 last season, resulting in a slightly above-average 103 OPS+. On the positive side, he exhibited his usual patience, with a 98th-percentile chase rate and 95th-percentile walk rate (13.9%) that ranked ninth among the qualifiers. Yet his slugging percentage was 89 points lower than his .472 mark from 2015-19, and he drove in only 49 runs.

Pham’s biggest issue at the plate has been consistently his 51.5% career ground-ball rate (49.6% in 2021), which has served to limit the impact of his high hard-hit rates. Still, there is some indication that Pham has dealt with bad luck on batted balls over the past couple of seasons, with only Carlos Santana suffering a larger gap between his expected slugging and actual slugging.

While injuries have been a frequent problem for Pham throughout his professional career, he provided strong production for the Cardinals and Rays when on the field from 2015-19. Pham batted .277/.373/.472 (127 OPS+) in that span, averaging 24 homers and 21 steals per 162 games. His best season came for St. Louis in 2017, when he posted a .931 OPS and 6.2 WAR (per Baseball-Reference), while finishing 11th in NL MVP voting.

The Reds lost a combined 89 home runs from last year’s club with the recent trade of Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suárez to Seattle and the departure of free agent outfielder Nick Castellanos. If he’s able to get back to his previous levels of productivity, Pham could restore some of the offensive void — especially at Great American Ball Park, where he is a career .366/.449/.505 hitter with a .954 OPS and three homers in 33 games.

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