The Padres have a deal in place to acquire outfielder Tommy Pham and infield prospect Jake Cronenworth from the Rays in exchange for outfielder Hunter Renfroe and minor-league shortstop Xavier Edwards. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal was the first to report that a deal was close, while the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee, USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale, and The Athletic’s Dennis Lin added details:
The #Rays are in serious discussions with the #Padres on a trade that would send outfielder Tommy Pham and a prospect to San Diego for outfielder Hunter Renfroe and Class A shortstop Xavier Edwards, sources tell The Athletic.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 6, 2019
Padres to acquire Tommy Pham, send Renfroe to Tampa Bay in swap of outfielders https://t.co/PGnqQouHa9— Kevin Acee (@sdutKevinAcee) December 6, 2019
The Rays minor-leaguer in the agreed-upon Tommy Pham trade is middle infielder Jake Cronenworth, sources tell The Athletic. Cronenworth, 25, hit .334/.429/.520 last season at Triple A. He also pitched a little. Interesting two-way prospect.— Dennis Lin (@dennistlin) December 6, 2019
While you could probably make a decent argument that Renfroe is the most valuable player in this trade, San Diego clearly has a burning desire to seriously compete for the NL West title in 2020 and is opting to sacrifice Renfroe’s slightly higher upside in order to add Pham, a veteran with a more impressive track record. Pham had his second straight near-4.0 WAR season in 2019 after an arguably-MVP-caliber 2017 campaign with the Cardinals. He posted a .273/.369/.450 slash line with 21 homers, 25 steals, and one defensive run saved in left field. With that said, there are reasons to be concerned about Pham’s outlook, even in the near future. Despite the fact that he’s only been a big-league regular for a few seasons, he’ll be 32 years old next spring. He’s historically been rather injury-prone — that’s a large part of the reason he didn’t have his breakout season until he was 29 — and though he avoided the injured list in 2019, he dealt with hand, elbow, and leg injuries and started 21 games at DH. Pham also deals with keratoconus, a degenerative eye condition that makes his plate vision (and more importantly his sight in general) an ongoing concern. And while Pham has shown himself to be an extremely caring, charitable individual, it’s easy to see why he might not exactly be beloved by Rays fans, considering his statement last offseason that the Rays have “really no fan base at all” and should think about relocating — an opinion he later doubled down on.
Renfroe, who turns 27 in January, has four years of control remaining compared to Pham’s two and is projected to be about $5 million cheaper this coming season according to MLB Trade Rumors’ arbitration projections. Beyond the fact that he’s less expensive — which seems to be the Rays’ chief concern in these high-profile cost-cutting moves that they make just about every offseason — Renfroe isn’t a dramatically lesser player than Pham, having posted a .778 OPS with 33 homers in 2019. He’s different than Pham in a few ways: His contact and on-base skills and speed are lesser than Pham’s, as he hit .216 with a .289 OBP in 2019. But he’s a better power hitter and fielder, having posted seven defensive runs in left field (tied for fourth-best in the majors) over 478.1 innings and 13 DRS (also good for fourth in the big leagues) over 504.2 innings in right.
Edwards, 20, was ranked as the No. 72 prospect in all of baseball by MLB Pipeline, as well as the fifth-best prospect in the Padres’ system. He was the 38th overall pick in the 2018 draft and hit .322/.375/.396 with one homer and 34 steals over 123 games split between Low-A Fort Wayne and High-A Lake Elsinore. He’ll slide in as the No. 6 prospect in the Rays’ system and become their seventh prospect ranked within MLB Pipeline’s top 100.
The 25-year-old Cronenworth, who was ranked as the No. 17 prospect in a stellar Rays farm system, is a left-handed hitter but a right-handed pitcher (he generally worked as an opener at Triple-A Durham in 2019). Cronenworth hit .334/.429/.520 with 10 homers over 406 plate appearances for the Bulls, seeing action at second base, shortstop,, and third base in addition to his work on the mound. Over seven pitching appearances (six starts), all of which came from May to July, Cronenworth posted a 2.45 ERA and a 1.64 WHIP with nine strikeouts and eight walks.