Padres tender contract to Pham, not Garcia

December 3rd, 2020

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres tendered a contract to outfielder on Wednesday but cut ties with , making the versatile utility player a free agent.

Pham and Garcia were the Padres' two biggest question marks ahead of Wednesday's non-tender deadline, and neither decision comes as much of a surprise.

Pham returns for his final year before free agency, after an injury-plagued 2020 season (and offseason). Pham had a .211/.312/.312 slash line in 31 games while dealing with an assortment of ailments including a broken hamate bone. Then in October, Pham was the victim of a stabbing, which required an operation. He also had surgery on his left wrist.

According to team sources, Pham is recovering well and is expected to be at full strength long before Spring Training next year. When healthy, the 32-year-old Pham is a certifiable on-base weapon, with a .369 career OBP. He is expected to lock down the team's starting job in left field.

First, however, the two sides must come to an agreement on a 2021 salary -- which is what Wednesday's deadline was all about.

By tendering Pham, the Padres have agreed to keep him on board for the 2021 season. The two sides have until February to negotiate a salary; otherwise, they'd go to arbitration. Pham would submit a salary, and the Padres would submit a salary, with an independent arbitrator choosing between the two.

The Padres have never gone to arbitration under general manager A.J. Preller. The club’s last hearing was in 2014, when pitcher Andrew Cashner won his case.

Pham and the Padres agreed on a $7.9 million contract last season (which was then prorated because of the shortened schedule). Typically, players receive raises from one arbitration year to the next.

San Diego agreed with left-hander Matt Strahm on a $2 million contract for the 2021 season, announcing the deal on Wednesday. That leaves right-handers Dinelson Lamet, Emilio Pagán, Dan Altavilla and Zach Davies -- along with Pham -- as the five remaining arbitration-eligible Padres. 

As for Garcia, he made $1.5 million last season, serving as a versatile infield piece while tallying some important pinch hits. But Garcia batted just .200 with a .529 OPS, and the Padres feel they can get better value elsewhere.

Garcia's departure raises questions about the bench. Jurickson Profar, Jason Castro and Mitch Moreland have become free agents this winter, and now Garcia joins them.