Wil Myers’ name comes up in trade rumors almost as often as Eric Hosmer’s. There’s no doubt that the San Diego Padres must somehow cut ties with Hosmer, but Myers can be a productive member of the team—if given a chance.
Did the Padres make a mistake in trading Trea Turner for Myers? In retrospect, Turner (FanGraphs WAR 24.1 total) has been a more valuable player than Myers (13.0). However, a prospect remains a suspect until he can prove his worth, and Preller had no way of knowing Turner’s value at the time.
However, the Padres did unnecessarily sign Myers, who had been installed at first base, to an $83 million, six-year extension in 2017 while also naming him “the face of the franchise .” Then general manager A.J. Preller pivoted and signed Eric Hosmer, an even more expensive first baseman, in the 2018 offseason.
No other team had expressed an interest in Hosmer. Moreover, analyst Dave Cameron (who had moved from FanGraphs to the Padres’ front office) issued strong warnings about the wisdom of such a move.
As James Clark of eastvillagetimes.com reported, “Dave Cameron was adamant about not signing Eric Hosmer in the winter of 2018. While at FanGraphs, he publicly discussed the first baseman value before joining the Padres. A month after the team hired Cameron, the Padres signed Eric Hosmer to the richest (at the time) contract in the history of the franchise. The bizarre move was a direct contradiction to what their analyst suggested. We will never know the details on what led the Padres to open their pocketbooks to sign Hosmer. But it is safe to say it was a bad idea. Dave Cameron was right.”
Although he’d been promoted to special assistant to Preller in the 2019 off-season, Cameron decided to move on from the Padres last winter. He’d been influential in the decisions to add Jake Cronenworth and Trent Grisham.
After adding Hosmer, the team moved Myers all over the diamond, in some instances actually putting him in positions to fail. In 2016 and 2017, he had manned first base for over 300 games. Although no Nate Colbert or Adrian Gonzalez defensively, Myers was not a glaring liability at the position (-0.5 UZR/150 total). That cannot be said for his defense in center field (UZR/150 -11.1) or especially at third base (UZR/150 -24.7), a position Myers had not played since 2012 as a minor leaguer.
The fact that the Padres even considered Myers at third remains a head-scratcher, and that year the relationship between player and ball club reached the bottom. Unaware he was being streamed on “Fortnite,” Myers complained about manager Andy Green. He later apologized personally to Green, but the damage had been done.
However, the Padres fired Green before the season ended in 2019 despite the two years left on his contract. Under Green, the Padres had an extremely disappointing 274-366 record. During Preller’s tenure, the Padres have cycled through several managers: Bud Black, Dave Roberts (one game), Pat Murphy, Andy Green, Rod Barajas (eight games), and Jayce Tingler. Finally, veteran Bob Melvin will get his chance this year.
In ordinary times, Melvin would spend the offseason getting to know the players and consulting with Preller and company. However, the Major League Baseball shutdown prevents any contact as well as trades, thus limiting Preller’s ability to wheel and deal—one more reason to concentrate on moving Hosmer.
The Padres owe Hosmer $60 million through 2025, thanks to his $144 million contract. During their time in San Diego, Myers has proven to be the better player of the two, and he’s more versatile. He could take over at first or move back to left field, his two best positions.
Overall, Myers has generally outperformed Hosmer despite having played far fewer games than Hosmer (Myers 13.0 WAR in 986 games, Hosmer 11.0 WAR in 1554 games). In 2021, Myers had 113 hits, a batting average of .256 with 63 RBI, eight stolen bases, 17 home runs, and OPS+ of 113, while Hosmer had 137 hits, BA of .269, 65 RBI, five stolen bases, 12 home runs, and of OPS+ 104.
Last season Hosmer’s WAR fell to 0.0, as opposed to Myer’s 1.4 WAR. Fangraphs Value metrics rate Hosmer at -3.8 offense, -14.9 defense, Myers at 6.5 offense, -9.0 defense. It should be noted that Myers’ sub-par defensive rating emphasizes the fact that the team stashed him right field rather than at first or in left, his two best defensive positions.
When baseball resumes, Preller and the Padres need to address the Hosmer/Myers conundrum. Hosmer has had the comfort of playing a familiar position, while Myers has too often been put in positions which almost guarantee sub-par results. Myers has proven himself to be more valuable to the team than Hosmer despite being asked to play less than optimal positions. The Padres owe both players $20 million in 2022, but the Padres have a 1 million buyout for Myers the following year. On the other hand, Hosmer will cost $59 million over the next three seasons.
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The Padres should concentrate on moving the pricier and less effective Hosmer while also putting Myers in a position to succeed. With Hosmer ensconced at first, the Padres would best utilize Myers in left field. Tommy Pham has moved on, and the position is open. If the Padres manage to trade Hosmer, first base would also be an option. Myers deserves the chance to play in his comfort zone.
Baseball has been a part of Diane’s life since her father played professionally (mostly at the minor league level). She has written for a number of publications and concentrated on companion animal welfare. She welcomes the opportunity to write about the sport she loves. Diane shares her home with her husband and a house full of rescued animals.