Now with Reds, Pham plans on 'revenge tour'

Outfielder signs 1-year deal with Cincinnati, ready to produce in 2022

March 26th, 2022

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Once his new deal with the Reds became official on Saturday morning, outfielder Tommy Pham immediately worked out with the club and took batting practice. Pham wasted little time telegraphing that he was a man on a mission.

“Revenge tour,” Pham said of his goals for the 2022 season. “I’m playing to get my numbers. There's nothing selfish about that. In the past, I put up really good seasons. ... I’m playing to get some numbers. I don’t care about anything else. I got to look out for me. At the end of the day, baseball is going to move on without me. I got to get mine right now.”

Pham, 34, signed a one-year, $7.5 million contract with Cincinnati. It pays him $6 million this season with a $1.5 million buyout on a mutual option for 2023. There is also a $500,000 bonus should he be traded.

Since the Reds worked to lower their budget at the direction of ownership -- especially at the start of Spring Training with the trades of Eugenio Suárez, Jesse Winker and Sonny Gray -- the front office has steadily been adding new players to the payroll. Left-hander Mike Minor, who will make $10 million in 2022, was acquired from the Royals for reliever Amir Garrett. Infielders Donovan Solano and Colin Moran and reliever Hunter Strickland were also added on one-year big league contracts.

Adding Pham gives the Reds the right-handed bat they needed.

“He’s a big player on our team and our lineup. He’s going to play left field,” Reds manager David Bell said. “He’s another guy that because of the DH will be a part of that mix. It opens up that rotation. He’ll be a left fielder and be a significant part of our lineup and do his thing.”

Among corner outfielders, the Reds also have Jake Fraley, Aristides Aquino and Shogo Akiyama. Fraley, acquired from Seattle in the trade for Suárez and Winker, can play all three outfield spots and bats left-handed.

With the Padres in 2021, Pham batted .229/.340/.383 with a 103 OPS+ over 155 games. He missed about half of the pandemic-shortened '20 season for San Diego, which included him fracturing his left hamate bone. He also was the victim of an offseason stabbing that required more than 100 stitches and intense rehab.

For the Cardinals and Rays from 2015-19, Pham batted .277/.373/.472 (127 OPS+) and averaged 24 homers and 21 stolen bases per 162 games.

“I don’t care about average, I put up a [.300/.400/].500 season in the past,” Pham said. “Look how many guys in the big leagues that have put up a six-[WAR] season, and you know it’s easy to say my best days are behind me, but from an athletic standpoint physically, I could still run and I still have my athleticism there when we tested it this offseason. So I’m still expecting big things from myself within this game, so this is a year for me to prove it to myself as well.”

In 33 games at Great American Ball Park, Pham is a career .366 hitter with a .954 OPS and three homers. He acknowledged that the ballpark was a factor in his decision to sign, as was Bell, who used to be on the Cardinals’ coaching staff.

“The first time I saw him, he was in the Minor League camp and I was the assistant hitting coach, and he was in the cage all the time,” Bell recalled. “He was always the last guy in the cage. It seemed like for hours he’d be there working on stuff. We spent a couple years together on the Major League team. He’s a guy who really earned everything and worked extremely hard to get to where he is.

“It says a lot about what to expect from Tommy Pham because of the way he works, how he plays hard and is really competitive. He’s going to add a lot to our team, and he has turned himself into a really good player. His track record speaks for itself.”

Pham knows he has to get up to speed quickly with the regular season set to open on April 7 vs. the Braves.

“I’ll be on these backfields a lot trying to get my game right -- offense, defense, a lot of catching up to do,” Pham said. “These guys got -- everyone in baseball pretty much got -- a two-week head start from me. I got to get to my playing shape and where I want to be.”