The Ways of the Rays: Why trading Tommy Pham was a smart move

By Seth Carter
Tommy Pham (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Tommy Pham (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /
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Tampa Bay Rays
Hunter Renfroe (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /

Outside of the prospect advantage, Renfroe is a nice replacement for Pham. He may not have the patient, steady bat that Pham brought, but he does provide upgrades in other areas over Tommy Pham.

Do you like dingers?

In only 140 games last season, Renfroe blasted 33 homers and 64 RBI. His 33 home runs would have been good enough to tie him for the team-lead with Austin Meadows. Renfroe has a career OPS+ of 108 and a career SLG% of .494. In fact, his worst year slugging was .467, which was still 17 points higher than Pham’s slugging percentage last season.

Hunter Renfroe is about to turn 28 in January. He’s four years younger than Pham. Although he struggled to get on base in the Major Leagues, with a career .294 OBP and a .235 average, he fared much better in the Minor Leagues with a .336 on-base over six seasons.

I’m not saying there is hope for him to suddenly become a .350 OBP guy, but he’s entering his prime years and shown he knows how to hit in some of the highest levels of baseball. In 178 Triple-A games, Renfroe slashed a phenomenal .320/.352/.583!

The Rays obviously believe they can help him make a few adjustments to bring the productivity up. An increase in average and on-base will go very nicely with his 35+ home run potential.

Where he is already better than Pham

A run saved is as good as a run earned. That is the Rays’ motto. We already know Renfroe and drive in runs with towering homers, but he is an excellent defender and a huge upgrade over Pham.

Over the course of his six Major League seasons, Pham has a total of nine defensive runs saved. It’s not bad, anything positive is positive.

Last season, Hunter Renfroe had 22.

I’ll let that sink in for a minute…Okay, now I’ll lay out their defensive runs saved stats from 2019 in an easy to consume format below.

2019 Defensive Runs Saved

Tommy Pham    – 1
Hunter Renfroe- 22

Check out the range in the video below. He made that look a lot easier than it was.

They MAY take a downgrade on offense, but it could be completely offset by the upgrade on defense. And I stress the word “MAY” from the last sentence. If Renfroe can make a few adjustments, he has game-changing power.  I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Renfroe ends his age-28 season with a higher WAR than Pham’s age-32 season.

It’s okay to miss Tommy Pham. We grow attached to these players and wax poetic about the days of yesteryear when Ozzie Smith was a Cardinal stalwart until his age-55 season, but the Rays don’t play that game. The Rays see the game through Rays Colored Glasses, which means they see it from a business perspective.

If you take your emotions out of it, you know this was a good business move by the Rays. They cashed in on the peak of Pham’s value and I would venture to guess we should be pretty pleased with the results of this trade in a year’s time.

It is good business, it’s the Rays way. For Tommy Pham, it isn’t personal, it’s just business.

Next. Would the Rays bring back Souza Jr?. dark

What do you think? Is this actually a horrible trade for the Rays? Am I just a moron? Let us know in the comments below.