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Rays finalize Renfroe-Pham trade with Padres

@juanctoribio
December 6, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays are known for being unpredictable during the offseason, and that was the case again as Tampa Bay announced on Friday the completion of a five-player deal to send outfielder Tommy Pham and two-way prospect Jake Cronenworth to San Diego in exchange for Hunter Renfroe and

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays are known for being unpredictable during the offseason, and that was the case again as Tampa Bay announced on Friday the completion of a five-player deal to send outfielder Tommy Pham and two-way prospect Jake Cronenworth to San Diego in exchange for Hunter Renfroe and infield prospect Xavier Edwards.

Rays get: OF Hunter Renfroe, 2B Xavier Edwards, PTBNL
Padres get: OF Tommy Pham, SS/RHP Jake Cronenworth

What are the Rays getting in the deal?

For the Rays, the value in the deal is getting a Major League outfielder that provides power from the right side of the plate, while also gaining a talented infield prospect in Edwards.

Renfroe is under team control for four more seasons, compared to the two years of control the Rays had with Pham. Renfroe, who will be 28 years old by Opening Day, is projected to make $3.4 million in 2020, according to MLB Trade Rumors, while Pham is projected to make $8.6 million.

Renfroe’s ability to hit for power is a tool that has impressed the Rays for quite some time. He hit 33 home runs in ‘19 and had an average exit velocity of 89.9 mph, which ranks in the 67th percentile. However, he struggles to put the ball in play consistently, striking out a career-high 154 times last season.

“[Renfroe] is a player that has obvious impact tools,” Rays general manager Erik Neander said. “I think in 2019, we really feel that he was in the midst of a breakout season before the foot issue got the best of him. That’s something that has been cleaned up and we expect him to be fully ready for camp.”

In Renfroe, the Rays also got an above-average defender. The outfielder had plus-6 Outs Above Average in ‘19, which ranked 24th in the Majors among qualified outfielders. His outfield jump percentage also ranked in the 58th percentile.

“I pride myself on defense,” Renfroe said. “I pride myself on being the best defender I can be when I’m playing center, right or left field. I just go out there and play as hard as I can.”

As for Edwards, the Rays are high on the young infield prospect and his inclusion in the deal is a big reason why Tampa Bay was willing to trade Pham to San Diego. Edwards was ranked as the No. 5 prospect in the loaded San Diego system, according to MLB Pipeline, and his speed is a big reason why. The 20-year-old infielder is a switch-hitter who batted .322 with 34 stolen bases in 123 games last season between Class A Fort Wayne and Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore.

Edwards is still a couple of seasons away from making an impact at the Major League level, but multiple scouts project him to be an everyday second baseman who should hit atop the lineup.

What are the Rays giving up in the deal?

Since acquiring him from St. Louis at the 2018 Trade Deadline, Pham has been nothing short of remarkable for the Rays. His focused and driven personality have blended in nicely with the Rays’ youthful clubhouse, and Pham established himself as a leader in a short amount of time.

In his 1 1/2 seasons in Tampa Bay, the Rays are 114-75 with Pham in the starting lineup. This season, Pham became the first Rays player to record 20 homers and 20 stolen bases in a single season since B.J. Upton accomplished the feat several times.

Pham also gave the Rays a strong right-handed-hitting presence at the top of the lineup. His .369 OBP was the highest on the team and Pham was just one of three players on the roster who was able to avoid a single stint on the injured list.

“I want to start by thanking Tommy Pham for his time with us and the impact he made,” Neander said. “He’s been an integral part of our club over the last year and a half, and we won a lot of games while he was here. An incredible competitor, leader, and it’s safe to say that his passion is unmatched by anyone we’ve come across.”

The 31-year-old outfielder has hit .284 with 65 homers and 65 stolen bases over the last three seasons. He is one of just five players -- along with Francisco Lindor, Christian Yelich, José Ramírez and Mookie Betts -- to rack up at least 60 homers and 60 steals since the start of 2017.

Cronenworth, 25, is an interesting prospect that saw success on the mound and at the plate for Triple-A Durham in ‘19. The Rays’ No. 17 prospect according to MLB Pipeline slashed .334/.429/.520 with Durham and hit a career-high 10 home runs. Cronenworth also experimented on the mound, possessing a 95 mph four-seam fastball, and pitched 7 1/3 innings without allowing an earned run, mainly as the team’s opener. His performance was good enough to earn Cronenworth Team MVP in Triple-A.

What’s next?

Neander admitted that trading Pham for Renfroe makes the offense slightly worse, as Pham has outproduced Renfroe over the past few seasons. But the club is confident about its ability to make significant improvements over the offseason.

The Rays sport a top farm system, which just got better with the acquisition of Edwards, and they have a lot of depth on the Major League roster. That affords them to opportunity to be aggressive on the trade market, and by trading Pham, they also have some more opportunities to pursue free agents.

“With the time that’s afforded to us and some of the possibilities that we’re pursuing and we’re exploring, we do believe we have a chance to get to the spring and Opening Day to have a different look to our club, but in a position that we will be at least as competitive this year, and we’ll be stronger in the future as well,” Neander said. “But we need the time to work on that and try to make that a reality.”

Kevin Kiermaier, Austin Meadows and Renfroe project as the outfield starters, but the Rays will surely be active to improve the positions and the offense collectively. The Pham trade was only the beginning in what should be an interesting couple of months for the Rays' front office.

Juan Toribio covers the Rays for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @juanctoribio.