In defense of Padres outfielder Wil Myers
A look at the career of Wil Myers and his time with the San Diego Padres.
Almost since the day he arrived in San Diego, Wil Myers has been considered a poster boy for general manager A.J. Preller’s mistakes.
Myers will forever be linked to the prospect that got away—Trea Turner. However, had Preller not fallen for agent Scott Boras’ hype about his client Eric Hosmer, Myers could have been far more valuable to the Padres.
The ink on Preller’s contract with the Padres barely dried before he made a flurry of moves, including the acquisition of Myers from the Tampa Bay Rays. As part of the deal, Padres’ prospects Trea Turner (a first-round pick in the 2014 draft) and Joe Ross moved on to the Washington Nationals.
The Nationals recognized Turner’s talent and brought him up to the big leagues in 2015. Turner, who can play short, second, and center, helped Washington win the World Series in 2019. Now with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Turner (.328/.375/.536/.911, OPS+ 146 in 2021) will have even more of an opportunity to tease the Padres.
The American League Rookie of the Year in 2013, Myers placed 16th in voting for the National League Most Valuable Player award in 2020 above pitcher Max Fried (18th). Another Preller castoff, this year Fried helped pitch the Atlanta Braves to their first World Series title since 1995.
In this first year in San Diego, wrist injuries limited Myers to only 60 games. Although he played in the outfield for the Tampa Bay Rays, Myers took over at first base for an injured Yonder Alonso when he returned to the field. Although Myers is not the second coming of Willie McCovey at first base, defensively, it’s his best position.
Had the Padres kept him at first base and passed on Hosmer, the outcome for the team and for Myers would likely have been much more positive. The acquisition of Hosmer pushed Myers to the outfield and, for a time, to third base. Moving to third base made absolutely no sense, and he wasn’t suited for center field either.
In 2016 and 2017, Myers handled first base almost exclusively. He batted .259/.336/.461/.797 with 28 stolen bases, 29 doubles, four triples, 23 home runs, and 94 RBI in 157 games in 2016; .243/.328/.464/.792 with 20 stolen bases, 29 doubles, three triples, and 30 home runs in 155 games in 2017. In 2016, he was named an All-Star and also one of the top Gold Glove finalists at first. In 2017 at Coors Field in Colorado, Myers hit for the second cycle in Padres’ history.
Thanks to Myers’ blend of power and speed, he ranked first in those categories in 2017 and second in 2016. At the age of 30, he’s slowed down but is still a threat on the bases. On the other hand, Hosmer has stolen 76 bases over his entire career and has been caught stealing 30 times.
In 2017, the Padres rewarded Myers with a lucrative (and unnecessary) $83 million contract extension, the most generous in the team’s history at that point. But, of course, that deal was first eclipsed by Hosmer’s $144 million contract and, more recently, Manny Machado’s $300 million and Fernando Tatis Jr.’s $340 million.
Thanks to those salaries, the Padres have reached payroll territory never before imagined in San Diego. According to Spotrac.com, the Padres 2022 total payroll ranks second behind the New York Yankees at $186 million. Obviously, Preller needs to cut back on expenditures, and it is no secret he has zeroed in on Hosmer and Myers as trade bait.
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Of the two, a trade of Hosmer would be far more beneficial for the Padres. He’s two years older than Myers and more expensive. Moving Myers back to first makes sense as Hosmer’s defense (which has never lived up to his Gold Gloves) has slipped considerably. According to Fangraphs.com, Hosmer ranked 19th in fielding at first this year with a shocking -85.2 UZR/150. While Myers’ UZR/150 at first base of -.05 may not be awe-inspiring, it’s quite an improvement over Hosmer’s. Also, Myers became accustomed to constant trade rumors and appears to take them in stride over the years. Hosmer, on the other hand, has been offended.
Myers endured a rocky relationship with former manager Andy Green, but the latter is long gone. That relationship reached rock bottom during a live Fortnite session with Carlos Asuaje, in which Myers declared that “Andy could not be any worse than he is right now.” Although he apologized, the damage was done. Myers and the entire team will start with a clean slate as veteran Bob Melvin will take over as manager.
Myers is more outspoken in his status as a veteran and the longest-serving member on the Padres’ squad. Myers has implored the team to “play good baseball every day—hit with runners in scoring position, pitch well, play good defense.” He also pronounced the outcome of the 2021 season “tough, frustrating, and sickening.”
Trading Hosmer and replacing him at first with Wil Myers makes sense both financially and defensively. Also, San Diego’s obligation to Myers ends after this coming season (Padres have an option or buyout for Myers for the 2023 season), while Hosmer will earn a guaranteed $13 million through 2025.
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.