San Diego Padres: What To Do With Wil (Extension Time?)

Credit: AP Photo
Credit: AP Photo

Two months ago, it all seemed so easy.

San Diego Padres first baseman Wil Myers was in the midst of a breakout campaign, playing the best ball of his career since the second half of the 2013 season. One that saw him win the A.L. Rookie of the Year award with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Entering the All-Star break, Myers had played his way into the hearts of Padres fans as the hometown favorite.  Over the first half of the season, he sat among the best in the league at his position, piling up 19 homers, 15 steals, 60 RBI, and 61 runs to go along with a .286 batting average.  His June, an 11-homer, 33-RBI onslaught on opposing pitchers, won him National League Player of the Month honors.  The performance culminated in appearances in both the Home Run Derby and the Midsummer Classic in front of the hometown fans at Petco Park.

By the end of July, the answer seemed clear.  The Padres were clearly in rebuilding mode, shuffling names like Pomeranz, Cashner, Kemp, and Upton to rival teams in exchange for high-upside prospects still years away from The Show.  Even with all of those moving parts, however, the front office remained clear that Myers would not be leaving America’s Finest City anytime soon.  An extension seemed inevitable as the organization moved to build on Myers’ emerging talent and make the 25-year old the centerpiece of future Friar rosters with hopes of contending.

Then the second half happened.

A .217 batting average, a .358 slugging percentage, and a strikeout rate trending towards 30% suddenly catapulted doubts into the minds of the Friar Faithful.  It seemed like such a San Diego thing to have happen: the SoCal savior crippled back into mediocrity that would make for a shaky-at-best foundation for a rebuild.

As the offseason approaches then, and with Myers set to enter his first winter of arbitration eligibility, the discussion continues: what should A.J. Preller and Co. do with the man affectionately known among locals as White Queso?

To extend, or not to extend: that is the question.

Let’s try to answer it.

Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Case For an Extension

A Wil Myers extension has seemed like a reasonable next step for the team all season.  For much of the year, Myers has been one of the Padres’ few bright spots in an increasingly depressing 2016 campaign.  His struggles in the second half could logically be attributed to the fatigue of a full season.  Entering this year, Myers’ career high in games played at the professional level was a lowly 99, achieved twice while in the Royals’ minor league ranks.  He is already up to 144 games played in 2016, an impressive feat in a career that has often seemed to be on the brink of being derailed by injuries.

It’s no secret that from April through July, Myers was mashing.  The first-half numbers mentioned in this article’s introduction had him in the statistical realm of the game’s best offensive stars.  For perspective, here’s an anonymous comparison of 2016 first half stats:

Player A: .256 batting average, 19 home runs, 50 RBI, 52 runs, 13 stolen bases

Player B: .299 batting average, 21 home runs, 63 RBI, 54 runs, 2 stolen bases

Player C: .297 batting average, 15 home runs, 58 RBI, 53 runs, 11 stolen bases

Player D: .286 batting average, 19 home runs, 60 RBI, 61 runs, 15 stolen bases

Now, if you paid attention in that aforementioned introduction, it would not be a secret that Mr. Myers himself is Player D.  But who are the other players on the list?

Player A is none other than Bryce Harper, the National League’s reigning MVP.  Player B is the Chicago Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo, a focal point of the North Siders’ march to their first world championship in more than a century.  And Player C?  That’d be Paul Goldschmidt, regularly one of the most underrated players in baseball and easily the top option if you’re looking for all-around production from your first baseman.

Basically, Myers’ first half had him in pretty good company.  That the league’s former #1 prospect had talent was undeniable, and the fact that he was finally beginning to deliver on that promise was proving exciting for baseball fans both in San Diego and around the country.

More than his talent though, Myers seems at home in San Diego.  Long criticized for his laid-back, fun-loving approach to the game, Myers’ personality fits well in America’s Finest City.  With young players set to be making their debuts in Petco Park on a regular basis for the next few years, Myers appears to be the perfect selection as an unconventional veteran presence in the clubhouse and on the field.  He may only be 25, but Myers still has four seasons of Major League Baseball under his belt.

When the majority of the line-up and rotation is made up of young bucks in their first or second year in the bigs, the chance to have an experienced star is something that can’t be ignored.  Add in the fact that he’ll still be young enough to actually connect with these new call-ups (essentially, the Padres won’t be asking a 40-year old to take under his aging wing kids who just gained the ability to legally drink), and it would seem that keeping Myers around for the long haul is a necessity as the Padres prepare for playoff pushes on the distant horizon.

However, there are two sides to every debate, and this is no exception.

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Noah Hilton
I am a current undergraduate at the University of San Diego and lifelong San Diegan. A pitcher and outfielder on the nationally-ranked USD club baseball team, I have aspirations of one day being the GM that finally leads the Padres to a World Series title. I'll write more once I graduate. You can follow me on Twitter @thebackseatlamp

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