Report: Rays trade for Cardinals’ Tommy Pham

On the morning of the trade deadline, the Tampa Bay Rays shook things up with a trade no one expected.

According to Marc Topkin of The Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Bay has agreed to send three prospects to the St. Louis Cardinals for outfielder Tommy Pham and international bonus slot money.

Pham hasn’t delivered upon the breakout success he saw in 2017 when he slashed .306/.411/.520. However, the 30-year-old has still posted a .730 OPS this season with 14 home runs, 41 RBI and 10 stolen bases.

He provides the Rays with a strong bat they could plug into the heart of their lineup, a key aspect needed for a team that ranks 22nd in runs scored. Pham will also provide reliable defense in left field, where he is best positioned to play after the Cardinals shifted him to center field this season.”

Most importantly for Tampa Bay given its tight budget, Pham is under contract for the next three seasons via arbitration. Additionally, the Rays received international slot bonus money that can go toward adding prospects to their farm system.

In return for Pham, St. Louis receives a package centered around outfielder Justin Williams. Ranked by MLB.com as Tampa Bay’s No. 14 prospect, Williams is a 22-year-old, left-handed hitter with a solid hit tool and decent power.

In 94 games at Triple-A Durham this season, he slashed .258/.313/.376 with a .689 OPS, eight home runs and 81 strikeouts. Given the current outfield depth in St. Louis, the Cardinals will likely stash him in Triple-A for the remainder of the season.

St. Louis also acquired Genesis Cabrera, a 21-year-old southpaw with an above-average fastball and a developing slider. MLB.com considered him Tampa Bay’s No. 25 prospect.

In 21 games, 20 starts, with Double-A Montgomery this season, Cabrera struck out 124 batters with a .218 batting average allowed and a 4.12 ERA. He is a few years away from making his MLB debut as his command still needs work.

Roel Ramirez is a 23-year-old, right-handed pitcher in Double-A Durham. He was not ranked among Tampa Bay’s top-30 prospects, but has pitched well in Double-A this season with a 3.32 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 40.2 relief innings.