The emergence of Tommy Pham was one of the best developments of 2017 for the Cardinals, who saw the former reserve deliver a stunningly great age-29 campaign (6.4 rWAR, 5.9 fWAR). Pham may not have been in position to break out as a Cardinal if not for their then-farm director, John Vuch, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch details. Even though Pham suffered through injury-shortened seasons in the Cardinals’ minor league system in 2011 and ’12, Vuch remained bullish on the former 16th-round pick and convinced him to re-sign with the organization on a two-year minors pact entering 2013. Pham’s driving force then was to eventually get to the majors, which he did in 2014. He’s now trying to remain among the game’s premier players and, according to agent Eric Izen, “understands that he’s got a smaller window than a lot of players. He’s 30 years old.” Unfortunately for Pham, his age may prevent him from ever landing a huge payday in the league. He won’t be eligible for arbitration until next offseason. In the meantime, he’ll make $570K this season after the Cards renewed him for that rate this week. That came after discussions regarding a two-year deal failed to gain traction, Goold wrote earlier this week. “The numbers didn’t add up to me and my agency and the union. Nothing made sense,” Pham said. “I didn’t think. It’s business first and foremost. I didn’t like it. The numbers didn’t seem right. I wouldn’t sell myself short like that.”
More out of the Central divisions…
- The rebuilding Tigers won’t be adding any more free agents prior to the season, according to general manager Al Avila. “No, we’re done for now,” Avila told Jon Morosi of MLB Network on Saturday. “We said we were going to try to sign two pitchers, and we signed two pitchers. As far as free agents, we’re done” (Twitter link). Unsurprisingly, it was a modest offseason for Detroit; aside from those two pitchers (Mike Fiers and Francisco Liriano), its only other guaranteed contract went to outfielder Leonys Martin. Those three will earn a combined $11.75MM in 2018.
- Royals manager Ned Yost told reporters Sunday that he’s considering giving third baseman Mike Moustakas some looks at first base this spring, though he hasn’t talked to the player about it yet (Twitter links via Rustin Dodd of The Athletic and Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com). If Moustakas actually does see action at first during the season, it could open up playing time for third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert, Dodd points out. The re-signing of Moustakas figures to lead to a smaller-than-expected role for Cuthbert, though Yost said this week (via Dodd) that he’d like for Cuthbert to rack up at least 400 at-bats this season. Cuthbert encouraged as a rookie back in 2016, when he amassed 510 trips to the plate and hit .274/.318/.413, before experiencing a massive drop in PAs (153) and production (.231/.275/.322) last year.
- Back in early November, the Reds were aiming to use hyped infield prospect Nick Senzel all around the diamond in 2018. They’ve since abandoned that plan, manager Bryan Price explained to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. “You can’t do that. The game’s not that easy to take a young man that’s primarily been third base and move him all over the field,” Price said. “We’ve primarily kept him on the left side of the infield.” The Reds are unsure whether the 22-year-old’s primary spot will be third base or shortstop when he opens the season in the minors, but Senzel believes he’s already capable of playing short in the majors right now, per Sheldon. At least for the moment, that position belongs to Jose Peraza in Cincinnati.