Padres earn split in Korea but still need to sign Tommy Pham

Aug 12, 2023; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks' Tommy Pham (28) celebrates his double against the San Diego Padres at Chase Field.

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Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

The Padres had a successful trip to Korea, splitting the two games with the Dodgers. Yet, it’s clear this team is incomplete.

In Korea, the Padres and Dodgers split a two-game series. The Dodgers won Game 1 after faulty webbing in Jake Cronenworth‘s glove sparked a four-run top of the eighth. The Padres had led for the majority of the game to that point. The Dodgers came out with a 5-2 win to open the regular season.

The Padres responded in a big way in Game 2, plating 15 runs with 17 hits (five for extra bases). They went 10-for-24 with runners in scoring position.

Just about everyone got into the action. However, there are still clear needs on this Padres team if they are wanting to make a run at the postseason.

It’s a fool’s errand to make any permanent declarations about a team after two games out of 162, making up roughly 1.2% of their entire season. Yes, the Padres scored 15 runs on Thursday, but this team is still imperfect, with options out there to improve the squad.

Left field is a concern. It’s hard to imagine the Padres getting into the playoffs with Jurickson Profar playing 140-plus games in left. Especially while they make Jackson Merrill figure it out on the fly as a rookie in centerfield. Profar is a lifetime .238 hitter with a career 92 OPS+. He posted -1.7 WAR (yes, negative) last year in 111 games with the Rockies. Yes, he tends to play better in a Padres uniform, but the Friars need something more. He was dreadful defensively last year, ranking in the first percentile at -14 Outs Above Average.

Profar does fit a need on this team. He is the perfect fourth outfielder/bench bat type who can spell a starting outfielder here and there. His abilities as a switch hitter are useful as well. Plus, it’s clear everyone in the clubhouse likes him. Still, those aren’t reasons to throw him out there in the lineup over 140 times this season.

He is not an everyday-caliber hitter. Especially when there are clear upgrades just sitting out there on the free agent market with less than a week until the normal regular season begins.

The Padres were reportedly in discussions with Tommy Pham on a deal to bring him back to San Diego. However, those reports came out almost a week ago with no progress. It was reported to be in the “$3-4 million” range.

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Quite simply, the Padres need to get this done. Perhaps the talks stalled when the Padres were focused on the series in Korea. Now that’s in the past, with nothing but off days and a few exhibitions left to go before the season really begins.

Pham is the quintessential big league outfielder. While he is not an All-Star or Gold Glover, he is a ideal fit on this Padres team that seems to need just one more slightly-above-league-average outfield bat. That is Pham to a T.

Yes, Pham struggled while in a Padres uniform between 2020 and 2021. However, given all that happened while he was here, along with the production he has had since leaving San Diego, it might suggest he experienced bad luck mixed with poor health. Maybe a second go-around will yield better results.

Last season showed that Pham still has the abilities he showed earlier in his career. The Nevada native became a key piece of the Diamondbacks’ run to a National League pennant. He hit .256 with a .774 OPS and 111 OPS+ between his time with the Mets and Arizona.

He went 8-for-19 (.421) in the World Series against the Rangers, with a home run and three doubles.

His ability to work walks and be patient at the plate could be a nice complement to the big power bats the Padres already have in the lineup.

In the outfield, he is an average defender (which is better than what the Padres have now). He ranked in the 31st percentile for Outs Above Average last year but earned high marks in arm strength (69th percentile).

While Profar certainly has a purpose on this team, it shouldn’t be as an everyday left fielder. The Padres need to give that job to Pham.

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