The Tampa Bay Rays are finalizing a trade that would send outfielder Tommy Pham and infielder/right-handed pitcher Jake Cronenworth to the San Diego Padres for outfielder Hunter Renfroe, switch-hitting infielder Xavier Edwards, and perhaps another minor leaguer who has yet to be named.
It was, well let’s say unexpected for the Rays to trade their best player in terms of fWAR from the past two seasons (Tommy Pham accrued 5.9 fWAR in a Rays uniform) for an outfielder (Hunter Renfroe) who hit just below league average - 98 wRC+ - in 2019.
However, once you start looking into the prospect the Rays acquired along with Renfroe, Xavier Edwards, you may see this deal more positively.
Xavier Edwards just turned 20 year old this past August; he was the 38th overall selection in the 2018 draft by the San Diego Padres. Since making his professional debut that summer, Edwards has been stellar at the plate, showing an impressive ability to make contact and have productive plate appearances.
Edwards has been able to improve on his already low strikeout percentage at each stop in the Padres system, finishing the 2019 season in High-A. However, his walk percentage has also dipped at each stop as well. Nonetheless, Edwards has been impressive at the plate.
Well under 6 feet tall and weighing in at about 175 pounds (soaking wet), he likely won’t hit for much power, with only 1 career home run thus far, but his 80 grade speed will allow him to turn routine singles into extra base hits and he’ll be a demon on the basepaths. With only 168 games as a professional, Edwards has already racked up 56 stolen bases.
As the 2019 season drew to a close, Edwards had begun to catch the attention of pundits around the league. He was named the 6th best prospect in the Midwest League by Baseball America (giving the Rays 5 of the top 6 prospects from that league). Following the 2018 season, Edwards was ranked as the 21st best prospect in a vaunted Padres system and 11th in their 2019 midseason update; following the 2019 season, he had surged up the rankings and was slated to be ranked 6th in Baseball America’s latest top ten for the Friars.
Needless to say, current Rays players aren’t all enamored of this trade — Pham was a popular clubhouse presence. The Rays ace, Blake Snell was online last night when news of the trade came in and you can hear his comments below. Is “slapdick” a formal scouting term?
Snell later apologized, saying on his Twitch stream that “I’m not trying to belittle a minor leaguer. It’s just super-rude toward that guy. That kid didn’t deserve me calling him a slapdick, let’s be honest ... Tommy’s the man, bro. It’s just hella stupid.”
In 2020, Edwards will likely begin the season with Double-A Montgomery, joining the likes of Wander Franco, Shane Baz, and Matthew Liberatore on what looks to be a very strong team. Southern League, watch out!