Tommy Pham is back and the 2020 season is about to start for the San Diego Padres.
The deal gave San Diego an instant upgrade in the outfield with Pham.
The 32-year-old outfielder tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of players reporting for Summer Camp in San Diego in June. Less than two weeks later, Pham met Major League Baseball’s criteria for returning to play after a positive COVID test by testing negative twice over the span of at least 24 hours.
Tommy Pham is healthy, and he’s the Padres’ presumed Opening Day starter in left again.
Jayce Tingler said while the optics of Pham’s impromptu Gallagher Square appearance weren’t great, “we had a little bit more information than maybe the public [did].” https://t.co/9tUCl3evcv
— AJ Cassavell (@AJCassavell) July 10, 2020
He took to the field Friday for the Friars’ intrasquad game.
If all goes according to plan, and that is an enormous “if” these days, Pham will be in the starting outfield come Padres’ Opening Day on July 24.
The Nevada native is the biggest addition San Diego made during the offseason. In his two seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays, he accumulated a total of 6.5 WAR with a 134 OPS+ before arriving in San Diego. The veteran’s skill set is a welcome upgrade for a Friars team that continually struggles to get on base. He has a career .373 on-base percentage, which would have been second on the Friars’ club last behind Fernando Tatis Jr.
Pham is seventh among outfielders in fWAR since 2017 with 13.6, with a better mark than Bryce Harper and J.D. Martinez. His fielding is also an upgrade for the Padres, as he has recorded 17 Defensive Runs Saved in left field in the last three seasons.
His ability to get on base combined with his solid defense and veteran presence make him an excellent addition to the ball club.
Now that he is healthy once more, Pham is back on track to make big contributions during this shortened season due to the pandemic. Of course, it is unfortunate that he had to experience a positive COVID test but the fact that he bounced back quickly and was able to return within a few weeks is encouraging for other players who might test positive over the next several months.
More players, including stars, will likely test positive during the season as the unfortunate reality of trying to play a season in the middle of a worldwide pandemic will set in. However, Pham’s situation offers hope that they can bounce back.
The Padres need Pham desperately if they are going to make noise during the unique season of 2020.