Tommy Pham came out of nowhere with the Cardinals in 2017, a waiver-wire wonder, a league-winner. And a year later, out of nowhere, he’s a deadline trade piece, a quick goodbye to a surprise breakout performer.
The Rays scored Pham on Tuesday, in exchange for three prospects and some international slot money. (I will be dangling international slot money in my fantasy negotiations all week.) Pham’s fantasy value stays close to lateral — Tampa Bay and St. Louis are just about even in OPS, though the Cardinals have outscored the Rays. Certainly, Tampa Bay is going to play Pham, that’s not an issue.
The new fantasy intrigue centers on the St. Louis outfield — a regular spot opens with Pham’s departure. Harrison Bader could be a fun fantasy player down the stretch. Although his OPS+ is barely over the league average, courtesy of his .265/.338/.400 slash, he does have six homers and nine steals over 200 at-bats. Power-speed combos are much rarer than they used to be; heck, when any of my players steals a base, I want to start hugging strangers.
Bader probably will be the new center fielder, though contract-albatross Dexter Fowler could always slide over from right field. The Cardinals have also recalled Tyler O’Neill; he was tearing up the PCL for Triple-A Memphis (.311/.388/.711, 26 homers in 61 games).
If you’re in the mood to speculate, Bader and O’Neill are both owned in a mere three percent of Yahoo leagues; Bader is my first priority. Place your bets under the Archway.