Jackson Merrill’s dominance has made Tommy Pham pursuit a thing of the past

The Padres outfield might be set.
San Diego Padres outfielder Jackson Merrill
San Diego Padres outfielder Jackson Merrill / Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/GettyImages

The San Diego Padres had been linked to free agent outfielder Tommy Pham throughout the entire offseason, and yet nothing has materialized. During spring training, it looked as if the Padres were in need of some reinforcements to join Fernando Tatis Jr. in the outfield.

But Padres manager Mike Shildt made the decision when the team arrived in Peoria to allow infield prospect Jackson Merrill to try his hand in center field. The 20-year-old earned a spot on the Padres Opening Day roster and has had a wildly successful start to his rookie season.

While the Friar faithful would have no problem with Pham returning to San Diego, it may not be entirely necessary now. Merrill's dominant performance may have made pursuing the former Padres outfielder a thing of the past.

Jackson Merrill’s dominance has made Padres' Tommy Pham pursuit a thing of the past

Merrill has found a home in center field. A shortstop prospect during his time in the Padres farm system, Merrill has taken to the outfield grass like a duck to water. It doesn't hurt to have veteran outfielder Jurickson Profar on one side and a Platinum Glove Award-winner on the other.

But it's not just Merril's athleticism and defense that has found favor with the Padres fans and coaching staff. Merrill is also bringing the wood with a .324/.395/.471 slash line. Merrill recorded his first home run last week against the St. Louis Cardinals and strung together a four-hit performance against the San Francisco Giants during Sunday's series finale.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today mentioned several weeks ago that Pham and the Padres were nearing a one-year deal worth between $3 million to $4 million. However, it was also reported that if those contract talks fell apart, Pham was eyeing a deal with the Chicago White Sox. After losing their star outfielder Luis Robert Jr. to a hamstring injury this past weekend, don't be surprised if the White Sox reach out to Pham's representatives this week.

Merrill's red-hot start to 2024 has made Pham to San Diego less of a priority for the Padres, and also allows A.J. Preller to spend that allocated money elsewhere. Seeing as how the Padres bullpen ranks 23rd in ERA, maybe San Diego's President of Baseball Operations could be on the lookout for an extra reliever rather than an outfielder.

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