Mets make 1-year deal with Pham official

January 24th, 2023

NEW YORK -- The Mets’ search for a fourth outfielder culminated with the the signing of veteran to a one-year contract. The deal, which was announced Tuesday, is for $6 million, per a source.

Pham, who will turn 35 in March, offers a mix of power and speed to supplement starting outfielders Mark Canha, Brandon Nimmo and Starling Marte. Not only is Pham one of 25 active players with at least 100 career home runs and 95 stolen bases, but he has hit double-digit homers in each of the last five full Major League seasons.

"Tommy adds another versatile right-handed bat to our lineup," Mets GM Billy Eppler said in a press release announcing the deal. "His ability to grind through at-bats, stay within the strike zone, impact the baseball, and run the bases is a valuable addition to our ballclub."

The most recent of Pham’s two 20-20 seasons came in 2019, when he hit 21 homers and stole 25 bases for Tampa Bay. Pham also posted strong underlying metrics in a down year last season, ranking in the 93rd percentile of hitters in average exit velocity, according to Statcast.

Still, Pham’s production has taken a dip in his early to mid-30s. He slashed just .236/.312/.374 over 144 games for the Reds and Red Sox in 2022 and owns a .696 OPS over the past three seasons, after posting a .277/.373/.472 slash line from 2014-19 with the Cardinals and Rays.

The Mets, who had been linked to Andrew McCutchen and Adam Duvall before agreeing to sign Pham, do not need him to be a star, but instead a reliable backup to their three starting outfielders. A right-handed hitter with a career .843 OPS against lefties, Pham figures to see the bulk of his playing time with southpaws on the mound. Athletic enough to play all three outfield positions, Pham has mostly been a left fielder in recent years and should steal some time away from Canha at that position.

The signing of Pham likely ends the Mets’ hunt for significant offensive help. The team recently lost Carlos Correa to the Twins after agreeing to terms on a 12-year megadeal with the All-Star shortstop, which prompted Eppler to pivot to outfield help. If the Mets are to make additional moves between now and the start of Spring Training, those are likely to occur in the bullpen, which could still use some fortification.