HomeMLB RumorsWhite Sox Close To Signing Tommy Pham To Minor League Contract

White Sox Close To Signing Tommy Pham To Minor League Contract

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The White Sox and Tommy Pham are close to an agreement on a minor league deal, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports.  The non-guaranteed nature of the contract is something of a technicality due to the fact that Pham is out of minor league options.  Since Pham will need some time to properly ramp up to the regular season, starting him in the minors gives the White Sox more flexibility to call him up whenever he is ready.

The Padres, Pirates, and Diamondbacks were all linked to Pham at various points during the offseason, and 10 teams reportedly checked in on the veteran outfielder early in November.  The White Sox were also known to be interested in Pham’s services, as USA Today’s Bob Nightengale first noted just under a month ago.  However, Opening Day came and went without Pham finding a new contract, and Rosenthal notes that Chicago might have been motivated to finally close a deal after losing Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada, and Luis Robert Jr. to the injured list.

Assuming that a deal is finalized and Pham reaches the active roster as planned, the White Sox will be the eighth different team the outfielder has played for over what will be an 11th Major League season.  While his production has been inconsistent over the last four of those seasons, Pham hit well just last year, batting .256/.328/.446 over 481 combined plate appearances with the Mets and Diamondbacks.  He also ran hot-and-cold during Arizona’s playoff run, but Pham had huge performances for the D’Backs in the NLDS and in the World Series.

Pham turned 36 last month, and some off-the-field issues have perhaps contributed to his semi-journeyman status despite generally solid numbers over the years.  That said, Pham was one of many veteran free agents who remained on the market for a long time, and ended up signing for much less than expected.  This cold market impacted not just some of the bigger names available (Blake Snell, Cody Bellinger, Jordan Montgomery, etc.), but perhaps hit hardest for more mid-tier players like Pham.

As Brandon Belt described things in a recent interview, interested teams seemed to universally view him as a backup plan this winter, and it is fair to wonder if the same applied to Pham.  If other teams found other outfielders, or (perhaps more importantly) outfielders willing to play for lesser salaries, it left fewer and fewer opportunities for Pham to land a suitor.  Rosenthal notes that Pham was “waiting for an offer he felt was commensurate with his value,” so price seems to have been a factor.

It could be that Pham’s time in Chicago ends up being pretty short, since if he hits well, he’ll undoubtedly get a lot of attention from contenders at the trade deadline.  The White Sox already look like sellers after a dreadful 2-13 start to the season, and moving a short-term veteran bat like Pham could be just one of many trades GM Chris Getz could make before the deadline is over.

Until then, Pham could just slide into a regular role as the right-handed hitting complement to Andrew Benintendi in left field, or with Gavin Sheets at DH.  Chicago signed Robbie Grossman to a minors deal in late March and Grossman has already become essentially an everyday player in either corner outfield slot, so Pham could also eat into that playing time.

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