The Tampa Bay Rays and St. Louis Cardinals struck a deal as the MLB Trade Deadline looms. The Rays pick up outfielder Tommy Pham (and $500K in bonus pool money) for prospects Justin Williams, Genesis Cabrera, and Roel Ramirez.
Source: Rays sending Justin Williams, Genesis Cabrera and Roel Ramirez to the Cardinals for Tommy Pham and international bonus pool money.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 31, 2018
The Rays have been surprisingly competitive this season, despite losing some key pitchers to injury and rewriting the managerial pitching strategy playbook. It probably looks strange that the Rays are picking up a veteran instead of prospects, but the 30-year-old Pham won’t be a free agent until 2022 with a favorable, albeit arbitration-eligible, salary. Pham has regressed just slightly from his tremendous breakout 2017, but on the cheap could be a nice piece moving forward.
Who did the Rays give up?
This is the second time Williams has been traded since the Arizona Diamondbacks made him their second round pick in the 2013 MLB Draft. Our own John Sickels recently did an updated profile on Williams. The 22-year-old left-handed hitting right fielder, currently in Durham, was ranked No. 11 on John’s preseason top 20. Here’s what he had to say on Williams at the midseason mark.
My basic take on Williams hasn’t changed. If you see him in person, his raw power, size, and general athletic strength are obvious and impressive. However, his style on the field doesn’t quite match the physical tools: he is still more of a line drive hitter who whacks the ball around the gaps rather than over the fences.
He showed glimmers of more power in ‘17 but that’s tailed off in Triple-A, his isolated power dropping from .189 last season to .125 this year. He generally makes contact but likes to swing the bat and doesn’t draw large numbers of free passes. That makes his OBP highly dependent on his batting average, which is one thing if you’re hitting .300 but another if you’re hitting .260.
Williams slash line at the time of the trade was .258/.313/.376 with a .689 OPS. He had eight home runs and 18 doubles, striking out 81 times and walking 25, numbers that are all seemingly down from his big 2017 in Montgomery. He has the tools and athleticism to continue his path to the big leagues, but needs to show more 2017 ability.
Cabrera is 21 years of age, below the average age of most Double-A pitchers where he spent half of last year and all of this season. The left-hander is listed at 6’1”, 170, wiry in stature but explosive in stuff. John had him ranked No. 24 this preseason.
Age 21, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2013; posted 3.22 ERA with 111/52 K/BB in 134 innings between High-A and Double-A, 120 hits; 80-grade name, 55-stuff, fastball 90-95, mixing in erratic but sometimes plus slider and a solid change-up, main need is for better command but he’s made progress and is quite young at age 21, would stand out more in most systems; ETA 2020.
Cabrera is still a bit raw in command, but throws with a live arm producing enough velocity to make his fastball a weapon, with some reports of it hitting the upper-90s. His fastball-slider combo seems to have him ready for a bullpen role if needed, but he has looked very much the part of a starter this season in Montgomery, leaving the Southern League second in strikeouts with 124 in 113.2 innings. Aside from a stinker on July 16, his last four or five starts have been solid, throwing 7.1 innings of shutout ball, striking out nine and walking none in his last appearance as a Biscuit.
Ramirez has been with the Rays since the 2013 MLB Draft where he was drafted in the eighth round out of high school in Texas. Now 23-years-old, the 6’1”, 210-pound righty was untouchable in the Florida State League to start the season (no earned runs, four hits, 14 strikeouts and no walks over 12.2 innings of relief) before getting a bump to Montgomery where he has performed well in 40.2 innings out of the pen, minus one start. The Rays experimented with him in the rotation for the bulk of 2015 and 2016, but it seems he is settling in as a bullpen piece with possible situational specialist role in his future.