Why Tommy Pham may not be a trade fit for the Braves

Braves Tommy Pham

With Ronald Acuña Jr. out for the season, the Braves have an obvious need for an outfielder leading up to the trade deadline, and we’ve seen the blueprint before. In 2021, Acuña went down with the same injury, and Anthopoulos addressed the issue by bringing in Jorge Soler, Eddie Rosario, and Joc Pederson for basically nothing.

Of course, doing it again won’t be easy, but when it comes to guys the Braves will target over the next two months, we have a pretty good idea. Players on short term deals, likely expiring contracts, that can be had for minimal prospect capital. When looking around the league at teams that will 100% be selling, not many guys fit that description better than Tommy Pham.

On the surface, Pham has absolutely everything the Braves are looking for ahead of the trade deadline. He’s a veteran that has excelled in the postseason. In 31 October games, he’s hitting .313 with six homers and an .846 OPS. Pham was also a pivotal cog in an Arizona team last year that went on to win the World Series, and he’s on a one-year deal for cheap. He is the exact kind of target Anthopoulos has acquired in the past, but with one difference.

Tommy Pham is a bit of an asshole.

Now, on the one hand, that might appeal to some Braves fans. Following back-to-back NLDS exits, several Braves players even came out and said they needed some more assholes on the team, and I have to agree. The way the Braves tucked their tails in between their legs following the Orlando Arcia incident after Game 2 was frankly embarrassing. There’s no question this is a team that needs a bit more toughness in the clubhouse.

However, there is a fine line between being a little bit of an asshole and just being an all-around unlikable dude, and Pham might just be on the wrong side of it. Over the weekend, there was an incident involving Pham and Brewers catcher William Contreras following a play at the plate.

Conteras appeared to have a few words for Pham as he showed him the ball, which Pham took offense to. It’s impossible to really judge the entire situation based on that because we don’t know what was said. However, these comments from Pham after the game aren’t the best look for anyone.

There is no situation where talking about fighting another player an hour after the fact is an appropriate response. It’s not “keeping it real.” It’s not tough. It’s extremely immature, the kind of words that are more common after a scuffle at your local college bar.

However, one incident like this can be overlooked, especially if you perform on the field. The problem? This is one of many instances for Tommy Pham, and the second one that involved a former Braves player.

Back in 2022, when Joc Pederson was on the Giants, Tommy Pham infamously waited for Pederson to come onto the field and slapped him because of trash talk stemming from a fantasy football group chat. It resulted in a three-game suspension for Pham, and following the incident, he didn’t show any remorse. 

“You know what, I’ve got no regrets,” Pham told USA Today Sports. “None at all. Joc deserved to be slapped.”

Now, perhaps Pederson deserved to be slapped, and maybe Contreras did as well for the incident at home plate. However, there seems to be a common denominator here, and based on what we know from Pederson and Contreras from their time with the Braves, I highly doubt they did something that justified Pham’s actions.

It’s also noteworthy that Tommy Pham went unsigned this offseason, just months after being a game-changer in the postseason for the Diamondbacks. The entire baseball world watched him come up with clutch hit after clutch hit on the biggest stage, and yet not one competing team decided to bring him on board, not even his own team in Arizona. He had to wait until after the season started to sign with the abysmal White Sox in April.

Perhaps it’s nothing, and teams just felt like there were better options, but that’s difficult to believe. Veterans with loads of postseason success that can be had for cheap will always have a place in this league. Unless… people just don’t enjoy being around you.

Tommy Pham has created a reputation for himself, and it’s not a great one. For that reason, I’m not sure the Braves would seriously consider bringing him into the clubhouse, even if they have a desperate need for another outfielder.

Photo: Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire

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