What the Diamondbacks expect from new outfielder Tommy Pham
Aug 3, 2023, 7:57 AM | Updated: 9:44 am
(Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)
The Arizona Diamondbacks spent less time trying to add hitters than pitchers ahead of Tuesday’s MLB trade deadline, but they jumped on an opportunity to land a 10-year major leaguer with an offensive track record.
Outfielder Tommy Pham is expected to play in the corners and as designated hitter in Arizona while providing a competitive presence in the clubhouse after coming over in a trade from the New York Mets on Tuesday.
He was activated and be in the starting lineup Thursday, Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro reported, and general manager Mike Hazen and manager Torey Lovullo have an idea how he will be deployed.
Hazen made it clear that Pham, a right-handed hitter, will not strictly platoon.
“I think he’s gonna get some corner outfield time and DH against every left-handed pitcher that we’re facing,” Lovullo told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Tuesday. “Then mix and match the best way that I can against right-handed pitching.
“We’ve got some really capable outfielders and a good mixture of outfielders, a lot of different combinations. So I’ll go out and get the information that I can that’s going to hopefully put him in the best situation to be successful — him and the rest of the guys around him.”
Pham joins a position group with Corbin Carroll, Alek Thomas, Jake McCarthy and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Thomas has put together a strong offensive showing against righties this year but is batting .080 against lefties. Carroll has platoon splits and McCarthy has reverse splits.
Gurriel’s production since the start of June has dropped off significantly, and the Diamondbacks have struggled to hit against lefties overall. Their .717 OPS vs. left-handers ranks No. 18 in MLB, and they are No. 7 vs. righties at .763. Evan Longoria has crushed lefties but landed on the 10-day injured list last weekend (back), although he is not expected to miss extended time.
Enter Pham, a career .846 OPS hitter against southpaws enjoying one of the best offensive stretches in the National League.
Tommy Pham hits it off the facing of the second deck 💪 pic.twitter.com/RUAMvyljAe
— SNY (@SNYtv) June 28, 2023
Only 10 hitters in the National League had a higher wRC+ in June and July than Pham’s 146. His hard-hit rates and expected stats indicate he will continue to produce.
He carved out a regular role in New York, a team with a crowded outfield and looking to compete entering the season.
Arizona’s offense could use assistance with 15 runs scored over the last six games.
“One of the things that we struggled with over the last month was offensive consistency,” Hazen told Burns & Gambo on Tuesday. “July has been our worst month offensively by a longshot.
“We wanted to inject something into the offensive side of things, too, because I feel like we’ve been behind early in games, and it’s been a struggle for us to come back. Or we’ve been locked into tight tight games, and as you get into tighter games down the stretch, having more offensive options, guys who can do more things, a guy who can stay in the middle of it but take some of the pressure off some of the other guys that have been carrying us, we felt like that was important.”
TOMMY TIES IT 🍎 pic.twitter.com/PRhxfC9utl
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 18, 2023
Hazen and Lovullo have also received rave reviews of Pham’s presence in the clubhouse.
Pham has bounced around some over the past six seasons, as he’s been traded three times at the deadline in his career. He’s been around winning clubhouses that reached the postseason with the St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays and San Diego Padres.
The veteran has a competitive fire. Last year, the then-Cincinnati Red offered to “get down” with Luke Voit after the latter leveled Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson on a play at the plate. He infamously slapped San Francisco Giants outfielder Joc Pederson over what the latter called a fantasy football dispute.
But players on various clubs have vouched for him as one of their favorite teammates, including Reds star Joey Votto:
Joey Votto on Tommy Pham as the #Reds play the #Giants:"I love playing with him. He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever played with. He wants it. Every day, he comes to compete. He leads the charge on effort and energy. He’s a great teammate, a really, really great teammate.’’ https://t.co/ARfeeBBbtb
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) June 24, 2022
“What we had heard in New York is how motivated and disciplined he was in the clubhouse and making himself a really good baseball player,” Hazen said. “I think that’s something that will fit into our clubhouse.”
Lovullo said he spoke with Pham over the phone briefly after the trade, and the outfielder was excited about the opportunity and complimentary of Arizona’s season thus far.
As for Gurriel, Lovullo made clear Pham is not his replacement, reiterating his belief in the All-Star to get back going.