Insider Saxon Says Pham-Cardinals Friction Never Really Went Away

While it may not have been the most expected Cardinals trade to go down on deadline day, the club’s sending Tommy Pham out of town also wasn’t an enormous surprise.

Pham’s public — we’ll call them “polite disagreements” — with his former team made plenty of headlines this past spring when an story full of F-bombs and wordy-durds hit the net, in which he claimed to have asked for his release in 2014 after being passed over in favor of guys like Randal Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty and Oscar Taveras.

“I said, ‘You know what, I’m the best mother—— on this team, and you guys don’t even know it,’” he told SI’s Jack Dickey at the time. “I said those exact words. They told me things happen, I’ll get some at bats. I just had to wear it.”

News Pham had rejected a Cardinal extension offer also came to light before the season, which led to him playing for just over $570,000 in 2018. Asked why he rejected the club’s two-year extension offer, Pham told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he “wouldn’t sell myself short like that.”

Well, the friction may have subsided some since that time, but it never really went away according to Cardinals insider and frequent 101 ESPN guest host, Mark Saxon.

The Athletic scribe told Tuesday’s ‘Kevin Wheeler Show’ Pham’s relationship coupled with the Cards’ outfield logjam both led to Tuesday’s trade with Tampa.

“They just had guys pushing for playing time and I think when you add that to the fact they and Tommy Pham had tried to work out a long-term extension, which he apparently found to be a bit of an insult…from that moment on I think there was just tension that continued,” Saxon said.

“The most recent incident that I heard about…was that he asked the team to buy a very expensive treadmill, a speed-training kind of a treadmill, and they didn’t want to purchase that at this point and I think he was upset about that,” he added.

None of this is to say Pham isn’t a good person or a ballplayer deserving of opportunity; it just means he wasn’t gelling well with everyone at 700 Clark Ave. and would probably do well with a change in scenery. Anytime a club has as many outfielders as the Cardinals, someone eventually becomes expendable.

“There was just a long string of things where I think they just got a little bit tired of some of his being a little bit disgruntled,” Saxon added. “It’s not to say he’s a bad guy or he won’t be a great player for Tampa. I think the thing it says about him is that he’s not going to cut any corners to be as great as he can. Anybody who’s been around this guy knows that’s how he is and that’s how he talks.”

You can hear all of Saxon’s chat with Wheels below. Stay tuned to 101 ESPN and throughout the day for plenty of chatter on the Cards’ deadline day moves.

More: Cardinals Deal Tommy Pham to the Rays for One Outfield, Two Pitching Prospects