The Padres are expected to be one of the busier teams at the trade deadline this year – that is no secret.
Sitting solidly in fourth place in the division thanks to those even-worse baseballers from the Bay Area, and firmly entrenched in a full-scale rebuild centered around being awful for the next few years, anyone on the roster with a hint of talent and a contract that expires anytime in the immediate future should be, and is, available.
There’s the rental pieces, pitchers like Clayton Richard, Jhoulys Chacin, and Trevor Cahill, who will be free agents this fall, but whose solid-if-unspectacular performances this spring could make them unheralded additions in long relief to a team with playoff aspirations. Reliever Craig Stammen and shortstop Erick Aybar also technically fit into this demographic, although I don’t see demand being all that high for either player. (Note: that’s also probably the first time Stammen and Aybar have ever fit into the same demographic).
There’s also the longer-term assets, controllable for multiple years and therefore carrying more value for an acquiring team than those aforementioned three-month add-ons. Yangervis Solarte (if he was healthy) and Brandon Maurer (if he didn’t have a 5.45 ERA) could be generating a lot more interest than they are now. Ryan Buchter could catch the attention of teams as well. Meanwhile, Brad Hand has turned two solid-to-spectacular seasons of work out of the ‘pen into recognition as one of the hotter names on the market this year, expected to bring multiple higher-end prospects to America’s Finest City as he leaves for playoff baseball in Hollywood, the Big Apple, or the nation’s capital.
Of course, the Padres have another player of value on their roster. He’s a former #1 prospect who came oh-so-close to a 30-30 season last spring. He’s making just $4.5 million this season while replicating those counting stats, and is controllable through 2023 after signing an extension over the winter.
Hometown fans have soured on Wil Myers of late, though, a result of his 30 percent strikeout rate and advanced numbers that paint a picture of a player just a tick above the league average offensively (and far below it with the glove). Some members of the Friar Faithful have even gone so far as to suggest putting him on the trading block this summer, cashing in on his youth and near-star status to bring back another haul of talented minor leaguers.
Harsh? That’s a question for another day (or, if you read the East Village Times consistently, a question for three weeks ago).
Rational from a front office viewpoint, though? Depends. Are you an optimist who believes Myers still has a layer or two of potential to tap into? Or are you a pessimist who believes the first baseman is nearing the end of his development arc?
Maybe the best option is to simply let both camps talk it out themselves…
Pessimist: We should really think about trading Wil Myers. The kid isn’t the superstar we once thought he was going to be. Let’s cash in before things go south.
Optimist: What? The guy is coming off a season where he almost went 30-30. That’s a more exclusive club than you think – the last two players to do it were Mike Trout alongside a fully-‘roided Ryan Braun in 2012. Better yet, he’s on almost the same pace this season.
Pessimist: That assumes he’s going to play a full season though. He’s done that exactly once in his career – last year, when he played more games than he had in his last two summers combined. The guy has trouble staying on the field…
Optimist: Every player (except for that guy Trout, I guess) is risky to some extent. Myers is 26 and signed through 2023. The former top prospect could be the guy who carries us to October baseball soon.
Pessimist: You’re right, there’s a chance. There’s also a chance his swing-and-miss tendencies get worse, or he hurts his wrist again, or both, and we’re back to square one.
Optimist: What about his combination of youth and experience? By the time these young guys hit the bigs, Myers will be an eight-year veteran and still only 30 years old or so. That’s more than young enough to resonate with all those kids. Plus, you can probably assume Myers will make some strides in his maturity as he gets older, which can only help.
Pessimist: I agree, you have to factor team chemistry and clubhouse culture into these long-term rebuilds. But who says Myers can be that guy? Just because a guy is older than other players in the locker room doesn’t automatically mean he can lead them effectively. Plus, to add a “leader” to a group of guys who have moved through the system together could be a net negative overall.
Optimist: So, because of those uncertainties, you want to try to trade him?
Pessimist: Yeah, I think there’s a good enough chance of him falling off that the Padres should be shopping him around. There’s some good teams out there in need of a first baseman who I bet would want to take a shot on Myers.
Optimist: Such as?
Pessimist: Well, the Yankees are known to be in pretty desperate need of a first baseman. Garrett Cooper really isn’t going to cut it for them come playoff time. And they don’t really have any prospects at the position that Myers would be blocking long-term. Can you imagine the return we could get if we packaged him and Hand together? Gleyber Torres could be within reach…
Optimist: Okay, maybe that would be a good deal if the Yankees were open to it…
Pessimist: That’s the most obvious fit to me. Plus, you could sell them on Myers’ attitude being a good fit for the Bronx. It’s not hard to see him just soaking up the limelight out there.
Optimist: But he’s said, over and over again, how much he loves San Diego. His personality is a good fit for the city, and he wants to be at the forefront of this rebuild. Besides, if we trade him, we’re one of those weak first-baseman teams now. You can’t pin a line-up spot on Naylor already. Not to mention the public fallout of trading one of our best players…
Pessimist: So we hit the free agent market if Naylor doesn’t pan out. Paul Goldschmidt and Jose Abreu are both free agents right around when we’ll be hitting our playoff stride. Anthony Rizzo, Brandon Belt, and Freddie Freeman will hit the market a couple years after that. Why pencil Myers in as a building block when he hasn’t proven he can be that for us?
Optimist: Why not pencil Myers in as a building block when he hasn’t proven he can’t be that for us, either?
I won’t bore you with all the details, but I would imagine such a discussion could continue for hours more, with fish tacos and Ballast Points mixed in for added effect. Ultimately, though, there is no easy answer to the Wil Myers dilemma (and, depending on your expectations, it may not even be a dilemma). Trading the de facto face of the franchise would be a tough pill to swallow for many fans, while others, frustrated by his inability to reach that elite tier of talent many projected him towards early on, would likely jump at the chance to swap him for a handful of prospects.
Personally, jumping ship on a 26-year-old set to make less than $15 million on average for the next six seasons seems to be a hasty decision more likely to end as a mistake. While he will likely never be a true superstar in this league, there is little doubt in my mind that Myers has a couple more steps forward to take, and selling him now, with the peripheral stats he’s garnered this season, doesn’t seem like the best way to maximize his value. He’s positioned well to contribute to those future pennant chases the fanbase is always talking about, and would provide some level of stability to a front office process that will be built on transactions for the immediate future.
Of course, there are a multitude of factors to consider and emphasize when it comes to the artist formerly known as White Queso, resulting in an even wider variety of opinions on the matter.
That leaves me, in the end, with just one final question:
What do you think?
Noah is a current undergraduate at the University of San Diego. In addition to his classes as a Business Economics student, Noah serves as the scouting director for the nationally-ranked USD baseball team and as an NFL correspondent with The Mighty 1090. You can follow him on Twitter @thebackseatlamp