Rays acquire OF Tommy Pham from Cardinals for 3 minor-leaguers

Published July 31, 2018|Updated July 31, 2018

The Rays' first deal of deadline day was a bit of a surprise.

They acquired the power-hitting outfielder they were looking for in getting Tommy Pham from the Cardinals, but did so not by trading frontline starter Chris Archer or one of their other veterans but by giving up three minor-leaguers – OF Justin Williams, LHP Genesis Cabrera and  RHP Roel Ramirez.

Pham, 30, hit .306 with 23 homers, 73 RBIs, 25 steals and a .931 OPS last year for the Cardinals and finished 11th in the NL MVP voting; this year he is hitting .248 with 14, 41, 10 and .730. The Rays also get some international signing money, reportedly $500,000.

Pham will join the Rays on Wednesday and is expected to be in the lineup against the Angels, with a decision pending if he will play left or right field.

Manager Kevin Cash said the Rays have liked him for several years, and are confident that he is playing at a closer level to last season than his current stats show.

Though Pham has played parts of five seasons in the majors, he will be arbitration eligible for the first time this winter and is under team control through the 2021 season.

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A 16th round pick in the 2006 draft, Pham spent parts of nine seasons in the minors before getting to the big leagues in September 2014. In 362 big-league games, Pham has hit .271 with 51 homers, 149 RBIs and an .828 OPS.

Pham turned down a two-year deal from the Cardinals this spring  and had his contract renewed, telling St. Louis media "If you look at what I did last year, I didn't think there was a great amount of appreciation. So I took the renewal." There also has been some mention of potential vision issues.

The Rays were on the wrong end of one of his big hits last year, a two-run walkoff homer on Aug. 26.

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Williams, 22,  made a one-day cameo with the Rays earlier this month, and has had an up-and-down season, his first at Triple-A, hitting .258 with 8 homers, 46 RBIs and a .689 OPS.

Cabrera, 21, may be the top piece for the Cardinals based on his electric fastball, which had him ranked the No. 14 prospect in the Rays system by Baseball America going into to season. He has not impressed, though, in returning to Double-A Montgomery after finishing last season with the Biscuits, posting a 7-6, 4.12 mark though with 124 strikeouts in 113 innings.

Ramirez, 23, has been working as a middle reliever at Montgomery, posting 3-1, 3.32 mark.