The Mets’ search for a right-handed hitting outfielder continues. They were connected earlier this week to Andrew McCutchen, though he agreed to terms with the Pirates earlier today. The Mets have also had reported interest in Adam Duvall and Trey Mancini, but Jon Heyman of The New York Post reports that Tommy Pham is another name they are now considering.
Pham, 35, was drafted by the Cardinals in 2006 but didn’t truly breakout as a major leaguer until over a decade later. In 2017, when Pham was 29, he hit 23 home runs and stole 25 bases. He also drew walks at a healthy 13.4% clip, leading to an overall batting line of .306/.411/.520. That production was 49% better than league average by measure of wRC+ and Pham was worth 6.3 wins above replacement that year, in the eyes of FanGraphs.
Pham would continue putting up really good numbers for a few more years with the Cardinals and Rays, but there’s been dip over the past few seasons. He was with the Padres for 2020 and 2021 but hit just .226/.335/.370 over those seasons for a wRC+ of 98, indicating he was 2% below league average. He reached free agency and signed with the Reds for 2022, later going to the Red Sox in a deadline deal. He finished the year with a combined batting line of .236/.312/.374 between the two clubs, good enough for a wRC+ of 89. His walk rate, which was in the 13% range for much of his prime, slipped to 9%. Most fans probably remember his fantasy football-related slap of Joc Pederson more than anything Pham did in a game last year.
Despite those recent struggles, there could be a case for Pham to carve out a part-time role on a strong Mets’ roster. The regular outfield is already set, with Brandon Nimmo, Mark Canha and Starling Marte in the three full-time jobs. The left-handed swinging Daniel Vogelbach seems to be lined up to get the bulk of the time at designated hitter, with the right-handed Darin Ruf on hand to potentially serve as a fourth outfielder and spell Vogelbach against lefties. However, Ruf hit just .152/.216/.197 after coming over to the Mets in a trade with the Giants last year, and the club probably wants to find another option that gives them some more confidence.
Pham has hit lefties better in his career, producing a 132 wRC+ against them but a 110 against righties. That still carried into 2022, as he limped to an 81 wRC+ against righties but produced a 115 figure versus southpaws. Though he’s no longer a threat to steal 25 bases, he did swipe eight last year. Statcast also thinks the tools are still in there, with Pham ranking in the 93rd percentile in terms of exit velocity, 86th in maximum exit velocity, 89th in hard hit rate, 74th in arm strength and 66th in sprint speed.
It seems as though the Mets are focused on adding a right-handed hitting outfielder as their next move, having been connected to McCutchen, Duvall, Mancini and Pham in recent days. The free agent market also features Brian Anderson as well as switch-hitters Robbie Grossman and Jurickson Profar.