The 2023 Yankees lacked, among many things, depth. It was a huge issue, particularly on the offensive side of things. The outfield in particular suffered and produced very poorly outside of Aaron Judge. It’s those struggles that had GM Brian Cashman professing the Yankees’ need for “multiple outfielders” this offseason.
Looking ahead to the 2024 campaign, one of many names that could help address that problem of depth in the outfield is that of Tommy Pham.
2023 Statistics: 129 games, 481 PA, .256/.328/.446, 16 HR, 68 RBI, 110 wRC+, 1.8 fWAR
2024 FanGraphs Depth Charts Projections: 131 games, 567 PA, .247/.326/.412, 18 HR, 66 RBI, 102 wRC+, 1.1 fWAR
Previous Contract: Signed a one-year, $6 million contract with the Mets in January 2023
The veteran outfielder has followed the exact same path in the last two seasons, working on one-year deals and moving to playoff contenders at the deadline. In 2022, Pham had a rather poor start to his Reds tenure but showed enough over the summer to generate interest and a subsequent move to the Boston Red Sox. Last season, Pham started the year with the New York Mets, a team that expected to contend, but fell flat, though not because of Pham’s efforts. Pham had a .820 OPS with the Mets before getting sent to Arizona.
His numbers tailed off with the D-Backs, but Pham was still an important piece during Arizona’s long and surprising playoff run. His overall season figures were solid, as he brought decent power, speed, and serviceable defense, more than could be said for most of the outfielders the Yankees employed in 2023.
Entering his age-36 season, though, it’s hard to see Pham generating a huge market this winter, even coming off a quality campaign. That means he could fit nicely as a one-year, depth piece on a contending team. That was the exact theory, in fact, behind the Mets’ signing of Pham a year ago.
As far as what Pham would bring to the table, the outlook is rather straightforward. In terms of health, Pham has managed to stay on the field pretty effectively, playing in at least 128 games in each 162-game season since 2018. Historically, he’s earned a bit of a platoon label, with a career .834 OPS versus southpaws, though Pham showed last year he can be a fine everyday option in a pinch. In 2023, he had very similar numbers against righties and lefties, with OPS figures of .768 and .787, respectively.
Pham would not be able to headline a Yankees offseason, but he would be a massive improvement on the kind of depth pieces the Yankees had filling in throughout the summer. When Judge, Harrison Bader, and others were injured, it was Franchy Cordero, Jake Bauers, and Willie Calhoun who were first called upon to soak up at-bats.
As of right now, the Yankees don’t really have surefire options for left and center field. Ideally, if they made a move for someone like Pham, it wouldn’t be with the intention of having him plug one of those slots full time. Lining up Pham to take spot duty, mostly against lefties, while knowing that he can respectably handle everyday duties if and when the time came, would be optimal. Pham shouldn’t be asked to play 162 games, but to fill in the gaps that replacement level players like Bauers and Cordero were once asked to fill.
FanGraphs crowdsourcing pegged Pham for $8 million on a one-year deal. That’s more costly than the league minimum apportioned to the likes Bauers and Billy McKinney took, but that’s just because players such as Pham are an improvement. The Yankees would do well to consider spending a little extra money to acquire quality depth, rather than replacement level retreads.