Can Tommy Pham Play His Way Off the White Sox?

Considering his hot start and inexpensive contract, Tommy Pham will almost certainly be a valuable trade chip for the White Sox this summer.

Tommy Pham #28 of the Chicago White Sox waits for a pitch during a game against the Cleveland Guardians at Guaranteed Rate Field.
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - MAY 10: Tommy Pham #28 of the Chicago White Sox waits for a pitch during a game against the Cleveland Guardians at Guaranteed Rate Field on May 10, 2024 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

In an offseason that saw a number of high-profile free agents sign late, Tommy Pham stood out more than most.

Remember: Pham began the 2023 season with the New York Mets and was traded to an Arizona Diamondbacks team that made it to the World Series. He finished the season with a slashline of .256/.328/.446 and a wRC+ of 110 — swatting 16 home runs and stealing 22 bases.

Moreover, Pham was in top form during the postseason, hitting .429 against the Los Angeles Dodgers and .421 against the Texas Rangers.

He also brought experience to a young D-backs team, and there was speculation that he might return to Phoenix given that he’d been a good fit in the clubhouse. Don’t forget that Pham gave up a World Series at-bat to teammate Jace Peterson so he could get into the game.

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(Read this Ken Rosenthal and Will Sammon profile of Pham to get a sense of what he brings to a team.)

Those hopes were dashed, however, when the Snakes announced they had signed Joc Pederson as a left-handed DH. Because of Pederson and Pham’s history, including both on the D-backs’ roster seemed unlikely.

And so, the 36-year-old outfielder continued to navigate free agency. Given his 2023 season, Pham’s inability to find a team was a curious development.

Tommy Pham Joins the White Sox

Finally, on April 16, Pham’s future — at least in the near term — became clear: He would join the Island of Misfit Toys known as the 2024 Chicago White Sox.

The contract was fairly typical for a player of Pham’s caliber signing with a non-contender. The Sox were trying to fill the spot of an injured Luis Robert Jr. and, presumably, sign a player who could be traded at the deadline.

Take note of that last sentence: Pham will receive $500,000 if traded, which suggests he anticipated his potential fate the moment he signed with Chicago.

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White Sox manager Pedro Grifol said of Pham’s signing, “He obviously has a track record in this game, and he’s a really good hitter, has ability to control the strike zone. Look at his numbers. He has a pretty good on-base, he has some power, he’s versatile out there. He’s got an edge to him that I really like.”

As might be expected, Pham’s tenure with Triple-A Charlotte was short, and he joined the Sox on April 26.

Off to a Strong Start

Since then, Pham has distinguished himself. In 18 games with the White Sox, Pham has slashed .319/.365/.464 with a wRC+ of 138. His numbers include two home runs, one stolen base, and 10 RBI.

The defense is less good — in 153 outfield innings, Pham has -3 DRS — but it’s early in the season, and Pham’s offense is compensating for any defensive issues.

In other words, Tommy Pham is having the kind of season consistent with the rest of his career – a career that has established him as a valuable trade piece on numerous occasions.

Will he be moved at the trade deadline? Almost certainly, especially given his relatively inexpensive contract. Pham’s résumé clearly shows that he’s a talented and versatile player who can move into a new environment and contribute.

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The question now is where he ends up next.