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Is something amiss with Rays’ trade of Tommy Pham?

Padres say they are still “working through” some things with results of physical, likely concerning his elbow.
The Rays' Tommy Pham played through elbow injuries at the end of last season. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
The Rays' Tommy Pham played through elbow injuries at the end of last season. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
Published Dec. 9, 2019
Updated Dec. 10, 2019

SAN DIEGO — The Rays’ trade of Tommy Pham to the Padres as part of a five-player deal was agreed to on Thursday, announced by both teams Friday and discussed through the weekend.

Apparently, it still is not totally done. And there is a possibility, however slim, that it could become undone.

In short, the Padres are claiming there could be issues about Pham’s health while the Rays are saying there is nothing amiss or that the Padres didn’t know.

Specifically, according to the Padres, there “are a few final questions” about the condition of Pham’s elbow, which was examined over the weekend by a specialist in Texas.

“When we made the deal with the Rays we put a couple different contingencies in,” Padres GM A.J. Preller said Monday afternoon at the winter meetings. “We’re still working through some final details but hope to have some clarity on that within the next 24 hours or so.”

Related: The Rays have traded another star; feel free to scream

That was news to the Rays, as general manager Erik Neander said as far as they were concerned the deal was very much done.

“It’s final,” Neander said. “I don’t have any reason to believe that it wouldn’t be.”

The trade sent Pham, a key part of the Rays’ 2019 lineup, and prospect Jake Cronenworth to the Padres in return for outfielder Hunter Renfroe, prospect Xavier Edwards and a minor-leaguer to be named.

Among other injuries, Pham played with a sore elbow late in the season, which was a subject of discussion in the trade talks.

And of disagreement now.

Said Neander: “Certainly Tommy had an injury at the end of the season. His rehab was progressing exactly as you would expect it to and hope for it to, and that’s really all I can say about that.”

Said Preller: “For us, we just want to make sure everything is straightforward. There were a few final questions that our medical group have got to look at that I’m looking at and we’ll communicate with the Rays here and go forward.”

Related: Ex-Ray Tommy Pham: ‘I’m a little sad to go.’

Preller would not specify the contingencies he was referring to, but that is not believed to include amending the deal. That could leave the extreme option of rescinding the trade and returning the players to their original teams, which would create awkward situations on many fronts.

Especially for the Rays, who then would have to try to re-open talks with other teams that were interested in Pham to strike another deal and have to explain that he wasn’t damaged goods.

Neander didn’t seem too concerned about that possibility.

“The deal is out there,” he said. “We announced it Friday and we welcomed Hunter Renfroe and Xavier, and they welcomed Tommy and Jake. Hunter and Xavier are Rays. I don’t know what else to say.”

And, Preller acknowledged, that is not likely, though not absolutely, going to end up any different.

“We made the trade with the players that were involved,” he said. “I don’t really expect anything to change between now and when we finally move forward, but we’ve got to just finish the process up and go from there.”

Related: Why the Rays made the deal to get Hunter Renfroe, trade Tommy Pham

Pham certainly reacted as if the trade was official, sharing his regrets about being traded with the Tampa Bay Times, then thanking the Rays on several social media posts.

Further, Neander said, “I shared my thoughts on Tommy at the time of the deal and have every reason to believe that his offseason was going the way we expected it to go and wish him nothing but the best. Like any player in another organization at this point, I want to be respectful of that.”

This isn’t the first time Preller and the Padres have bene involved in a controversy regarding medical reports and traded players. In 2016, he was suspended 30 days by the league after an investigation following the trade of Drew Pomeranz to Boston found the Padres failed to disclose accurate medical information.

According to ESPN, Padres officials told their athletic trainers to retain two sets of medical files, one for industry use that would make the players more appealing trade-wise and another for internal use.

Earlier that season, a deal Preller made to trade Colin Rea to the Marlins (as part of a larger deal) was basically reversed when Rea had to leave his first outing due to an elbow injury.

Preller also was suspended for three months in 2010 while working with Texas due to falsification of records involving the signing of a prospect from the Dominican Republic.

Contact Marc Topkin at Follow @TBTimes_Rays.


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