What is the future for Wil Myers and the San Diego Padres?
As the regular season enters its final month with no playoff appearances insight, the front office will undoubtedly concentrate on next year. Since fans have been promised a contender, the pressure to perform will ramp up, and changes will be made. One significant question mark regards Wil Myers’ future in San Diego.
Although Myers has become an afterthought receiving less and less playing time, his contract status doesn’t change. Beginning next year and for three years after that, the Padres will be on the hook for $22,500,000 a year. His stats (-0.8 WAR, 349 AB, .223/.310/.390/.700, OPS+ 85) won’t affect the bill, nor will they help find a trading partner in the off-season.
In December 2014, four months into his tenure as general manager, A.J. Preller crafted a three-team deal that sent Rene Rivera, Burch Smith, and Jake Bauers to the Tampa Bay Rays and Joe Ross and Trea Turner to the Washington Nationals for Myers, Gerardo Reyes, Ryan Hanigan, and Jose Castillo. Sure, the Padres gave up a lot, but, after all, this was the 2013 Rookie of the Year.
Unfortunately, Myers’ first year did not play out well, as he appeared in only 60 games (thanks largely to a wrist injury). He batted just .253/.336/.427/.763. Before the next season, the Padres parted ways with first baseman Yonder Alonso and moved Myers out of the outfield to take his place.
Myers rewarded the Padres with his best two years. He appeared in 149 games in 2016 and 154 in 2017 and seemed to have found a home at first base where he ranked second and fifth in fielding percentage. Early in 2017 season, the Padres, in turn, rewarded Myers, naming him the face of the franchise and signing him to the largest contract in team history at the time.
However, in a surprise move the following off-season, the Padres switched gears and agreed to an eight-year deal with first baseman Eric Hosmer worth $144 million over eight years. The deal not only eclipsed Myers’ contract, but it also pushed him off first and essentially replaced him as the face of the franchise. Myers found himself back in the outfield and then at third, the latter producing both lousy results and hard feelings.
Although first base cannot be considered a prime defensive position, the Padres will basically be paying over $40 million for Hosmer and the player who used to play first. The only option for Myers will be the crowded outfield. While his defense in left has been acceptable, the same cannot be said for center. Further complicating the situation, Francisco Mejia and Josh Naylor have received increasing playing time in left. Both players represent the future — Wil Myers does not.
However, other teams will not exactly be waiting in line to trade for Myers, thanks to both his performance and his contract. Preller will have to give up highly valued prospects (which he has been loath to do so far) and current players to reclaim just a fraction of the money that will be owed to Myers.
As time passes, it has become increasingly apparent the trade was a mistake with shortstop Trea Turner being the poster child for that mistake. The shortstop area had been a position of weakness for years until the Padres called up Fernando Tatis Jr. at the beginning of the season. The team has exacerbated the problem it created by putting Myers in positions to fail, especially in the third base experiment.
At the time of the trade, the front office ignored the warning signs. Despite his skill set, two teams in the Kansas City Royals and Tampa Bay Rays traded the former Rookie of the Year. If physical talent isn’t the issue, then perhaps the issue between his ears. At times he plays as if he’s at a Sunday soiree rather than in a big-league game and seems to lack the fire that fuels most successful athletes.
Wil Myers has become expendable, and the Padres need to clear roster space. Myers and at least a portion of his contract will not be an easy sell. But designating the former face of the franchise for assignment and eating his contract would be unthinkable. Finding a new home for Myers will obviously be one of Preller’s urgent projects in the off-season.