The Red Sox spent Monday trading away veterans, but they also spent Monday acquiring veterans. Is Boston in or out on this playoff chase?
For a brief span Monday, the Red Sox’s trade deadline approach looked positively bizarre. On one hand, they dealt away starting catcher Christian Vazquez. Then they were acquiring a veteran hitter in Pham, who is on an expiring contract.
So … are the Red Sox going for it? Or not?
We have incomplete information about Boston’s overall course at this point and more moves are likely to be made. The most drama surrounds the fate of pending free agent J.D. Martinez. If Martinez goes, Pham may be the most likely candidate to step into his shoes as the semi-regular DH and outfielder.
Even if Martinez stays, the Red Sox can use Pham as part of the outfield mix — if he produces at anything close to his career peak. The problem is that Pham hasn’t hit at that level for quite a while now.
Pham is a good player who has had kind of an unfortunate career. Buried in the Cardinals’ system for too long, Pham didn’t get a shot at a regular role in the majors until age 28. But he produced, putting up a 130 OPS+ over his first three seasons as a regular. By then however, he was 31, and in the three seasons since, that OPS+ figure has tumbled to 94.
That said, Pham has mashed lefty pitchers this season and might serve Boston best in a role that emphasizes that ability. At the very least, his presence should mean that Jackie Bradley Jr. (hitting .132 against lefties) need not see another southpaw this season.
All in all, it’s hard to foretell Boston’s path from here based on this deal. But chances are, we’ll have a much better idea of that by this time tomorrow.
Getting something for Pham is better that getting nothing for a player on an expiring deal. He’s 34 and the Reds are in a rebuild. But you can’t grade what you don’t know, and so the PTBNL will determine Cincinnati’s mark.