Did Tommy Pham's feud with Mike Trout prevent Angels from improving outfield?

It seems possible that the Angels passed on a free agent outfielder because he put Mike Trout on blast for something truly dumb.
Tampa Bay Rays v Los Angeles Angels
Tampa Bay Rays v Los Angeles Angels / Kevork Djansezian/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Angels' outfield has had a gaping hole in it from day one in 2024. Obviously Mike Trout has returned to being awesome once again and Taylor Ward is off to a tremendous start to the season with a 156 wRC+, but LA clearly still doesn't trust Jo Adell, and the combo of Aaron Hicks and Mickey Moniak have apparently turned back into pumpkins.

It isn't exactly news as that third outfield spot was incredibly speculative going back to the offseason. Many wondered if the Angels should have taken a different approach to resolving it beyond signing Aaron Hicks and hoping that his half season in Baltimore was real. One name that came up repeatedly as a potential option was free agent Tommy Pham.

Despite the fact that Pham had himself a nice year at the plate and helped the Diamondbacks make a run to the World Series, the Angels and every team in the league seemed to be avoiding him until news broke revealing the White Sox were close to signing Pham to a minor-league deal. While the Angels may have just felt like Pham wasn't a good fit, there is another, more conspiratorial explanation for why LA may have avoided signing him.

Did Tommy Pham's fantasy football grievances really keep the Angels from signing him?

Pham has a widespread reputation as being a very, very intense and prickly figure. The guy walks around with a chip on his shoulder constantly and is not afraid to let anyone around him know it. Given that he has had to bounce around so much the last few years points to the fact that he may not be easiest guy to be around even though he can be a productive player.

However, the situation with the Angels is unique in that Pham's "intensity" spilled over in a big way when a fantasy football dispute back in 2022 resulted in Pham slapping Joc Pederson and getting suspended for it. What does that have to do with the Angels at all? Well, Pham blamed the whole episode on the league's commissioner, Mike Trout, for letting a fantasy move happen and being "the worst commissioner in fantasy sports."

Obviously Pham was completely unhinged about that whole situation. While there was real money at stake, assaulting a guy for making a fantasy football roster move that you thought was against the rules was quite the life choice to make. However, when he so publicly put Trout, the face of the Angels and one of the best players on the planet, publicly on blast like that, it could have created a really awkward situation if LA had chosen to sign him.

Ultimately, the opportunity cost here is relatively low as Pham is far from a guarantee to rake in 2024, and his general demeanor could have caused issues beyond his fantasy sports grievances with Trout. That said, it is an interesting wrinkle in what is a growing roster concern for the Angels this season.

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