Red Sox decline Tommy Pham’s option, making outfielder a free agent

The Red Sox have declined their end of Tommy Pham’s $12 million mutual option for the 2023 season, according to The Boston Globe’s Julian McWilliams. The veteran outfielder will receive a $1.5 million buyout as he heads for free agency.

Pham, 34, was acquired from the Reds in exchange for minor-league infielder Nick Northcut on August 1. The right-handed hitter initially got off to a promising start with the Red Sox but ended his season in an 0-for-18 slump at the plate.

All told, Pham batted just .234/.298/.374 with 12 doubles, six home runs, 24 RBIs, 32 runs scored, one stolen base, 14 walks, and 67 strikeouts over 53 games (235 plate appearances) with the Sox. He was used exclusively as a left fielder and finished tied for the team lead in outfield assists with eight.

A former 16th-round draft pick of the Cardinals out of Durango High School in 2006, Pham first broke in with St. Louis towards the end of the 2014 season. The Las Vegas-area native then put himself on the map when he finished 11th in National League MVP voting in 2017.

The following July, the Cardinals traded Pham to the Rays. After 1 1/2 years in Tampa Bay, where he got to know current Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, Pham was dealt to the Padres in December 2019. He spent two seasons with San Diego before hitting free agency for the first time last November.

It took until March because of the lockout, but Pham ultimately signed a one-year, $7.5 million contract with the Reds that came with the aforementioned mutual option for 2023. Prior to being traded over the summer, Pham made headlines in late May when he slapped Giants outfielder Joc Pederson across the face during batting practice at Great American Ballpark because of a dispute centered around fantasy football.

Between Cincinnati and Boston, Pham slashed .236/.312/.374 with 23 doubles, one triple, 17 homers, 63 runs driven in, 89 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 56 walks, and 67 strikeouts across 144 total games (622 plate appearances). His 15 outfield assists were the most in all of baseball.

Pham, who turns 35 next March, has expressed interest in returning to the Red Sox as he enjoyed playing in Boston. For their part, the Red Sox could also be interested in a reunion since they are expected to bolster their outfield depth this winter.

With the Pham decision made, the Red Sox still have two more option calls due this week. While Chris Sale has opted in and Xander Bogaerts has opted out, Boston is still waiting on Eric Hosmer, who is expected to opt in. James Paxton, meanwhile has the ability to exercise a $4 million player option for 2023 if his two-year, $26 million club optioned is declined. Those decisions are due by Thursday.

(Picture of Tommy Pham: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox slugger Kyle Schwarber becomes free agent after declining $11.5 million mutual option for 2022 season

Kyle Schwarber has officially become a free agent after declining his $11.5 million mutual option for 2022, the Associated Press reported earlier Friday morning.

Schwarber, 28, had until Sunday to decide on accepting his end of the mutual option that was part of the one-year, $10 million deal he signed with the Nationals back in January.

It was expected that Schwarber would decline it and instead test the free agency waters based off the strong 2021 season he put together between the Nationals and Red Sox.

After getting traded from Washington to Boston in exchange for pitching prospect Aldo Ramirez in late July, Schwarber later made his Red Sox debut on August 13, as he had previously been on the injured list due to a right hamstring strain.

Upon being inserted into manager Alex Cora’s lineup, Schwarber made his impact felt right away and quickly became a fan favorite in Boston as a result of doing so. In 41 games for the Sox, the left-handed hitter slashed an impressive .291/.435/.522 with 10 doubles, seven home runs, 18 RBI, 34 runs scored, 33 walks, and 39 strikeouts across 168 plate appearances.

Defensively, Schwarber appeared in 15 games in left field and an additional 10 at first base, a position he was learning on the fly so that the Red Sox could get his bat into the lineup regularly without altering their regular outfield picture too much.

In the postseason, the 6-foot, 299 pound slugger batted .205/.286/.432 to go along with one double, three homers, six RBI, eight runs scored, one stolen base, five walks, and 11 strikeouts over 11 games (49 plate appearances) spanning the American League Wild Card Game against the Yankees, the American League Division Series against the Rays, and the American League Championship Series against the Astros.

Because the Red Sox acquired Schwarber, who does not turn 29 until March, midseason, they cannot extend him an $18.4 million qualifying offer. They can, however, make an attempt to bring him back for the 2022 season and beyond.

When the Red Sox were eliminated by the Astros in Game 6 of the ALCS last month, Schwarber did indicate that he would be open to remaining in Boston if the opportunity presented itself.

“This is definitely a clubhouse that I could see myself wanting to stay in,” Schwarber told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith. “These guys are amazing. I said this, it’s two World Series teams going at it. This is a World Series clubhouse, and I would love to hopefully see if that opportunity comes back.”

(Picture of Kyle Schwarber: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)