Image credit: Tommy Pham (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
After a last-place finish in 2019 and a threat from their owner, the Padres aren’t wasting any time upgrading their roster for 2020.
The Padres acquired outfielder Tommy Pham and shortstop prospect Jake Cronenworth from the Rays in a deal made official Friday evening. In exchange, they sent away 2019 home run leader Hunter Renfroe, highly-regarded prospect Xavier Edwards and a player to be named later.
Pham is the fourth major leaguer the Padres acquired to plug into their starting lineup or rotation in the last nine days. They acquired outfielder Trent Grisham and righthander Zach Davies from the Brewers on Nov. 27 and second baseman Jurickson Profar from the Athletics on Dec. 2
Hunter Renfroe, OF
Renfroe has shown light-tower power but also a huge propensity for strikeouts since arriving in the majors at the end of the 2016 season. He was in the midst of his best season last year with 27 home runs and a .921 OPS through the first half, but injuries hampered him the second half and he hit .161 with six home runs the rest of the way. Renfroe has never quite figured out how to hit righthanders and at times has been relegated to a platoon. He’s a career .221/.271/.459 hitter against righties, compared to .269/.345/.579 against lefties. Renfroe has one of the strongest arms in baseball and has shown flashes of being an excellent defender in right field, although he often plays out of control and makes mistakes because of it. He is in his first year of arbitration and won’t be a free agent until 2024.
Xavier Edwards, 2B
The 38th overall pick in 2018, Edwards finished third in the minors in hits this year and was the youngest player selected for Team USA’s Olympic qualifying team that went to Premier12. He was set to rank as the Padres No. 6 prospect in the upcoming Prospect Handbook. Edwards is listed at 5-foot-10 but is really closer to 5-foot-7. He has a discerning eye and consistently puts good swings on pitches from both sides of the plate as a capable switch-hitter. His size and swing path aren’t conducive to hitting home runs, but he can sting the ball to the gaps and let his plus-plus speed work to rack up doubles and triples. He is a prolific basestealer with good instincts, completing his profile as a potential leadoff hitter in the mold of Chone Figgins. He’s more of a reliable defender than a flashy one at second base, which is where he fits best because his fringy arm strength is a liability at shortstop. He has the athleticism to play center field and could fit as a multi-positional player if needed. Edwards finished last year in high Class A and should advance to Double-A in 2020.
Tommy Pham, OF
The Padres have finished in the bottom five of MLB in on-base percentage every year since 2014 and are aggressively trying to fix that. Pham’s .369 on-base percentage last year would have been second-highest on the Padres, and it was no fluke with his career .377 on-base percentage. Pham helps in more ways beyond that. He’s hit at least .270 with 20 home runs and 15 stolen bases each of the last three years, as well as played an above-average left field as measured by Baseball-Reference’s defensive runs saved. Pham immediately becomes the Padres’ starting left fielder and a major threat in the top half of their lineup. He is under team control for the next two seasons and will be a free agent after 2021.
Jake Cronenworth, SS
Cronenworth was a rather vanilla minor league middle infielder until breaking out at Triple-A Durham in 2019. He won the International League batting title with a .334 average and also led the league with a .429 on-base percentage. Most intriguingly, he began pitching games as an “opener” and sat 94-96 mph off the mound. Cronenworth gives the Padres a true shortstop among their reserve infielders, something they currently lack. He’s a solid defender at the position whose feel and instincts allow him to get to balls he otherwise wouldn’t, and he has plenty of arm strength to make throws from deep in the hole. Cronenworth benefitted from the new ball at Triple-A and is seen as more of a solid hitter than a great one. He has good feel for the strike zone, takes consistent at-bats and makes contact, but evaluators see him as more of a bottom-of-the-order type because he lacks power. Cronenworth would have a shot to stick as a reserve on just his glove and contact ability alone, but the addition of the “two-way” player designation and the 26th roster spot will further help his case. He should join—or succeed—Greg Garcia as the Padres primary reserve middle infielder, with his ability to pitch a nice bonus.