The Disappointing Saga of Wil Myers

Credit: Getty Images/ Dennis poroy

Credit: MLB

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.

Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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Diane Calkins
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.

25 thoughts on “The Disappointing Saga of Wil Myers

  1. I just read all what you had said and we agree, we blame it all on the Padres, at one time Myers was Prellers baby his first pickings, they throw him all over place as if they don,’t care,I say now let him in and play every game, Cause Padres are not going anywhere now with the way they been playing

    1. Hi Sandi,
      It’s interesting that this article has gotten more attention than anything I’ve ever written for EVT. It obviously touched a nerve. Thanks for reading and joining in the discussion. Playing guys out of position, instead of setting them up to succeed, seems to be another really bad trend.

  2. Hope Myers will stay in SD at first base – the more I think over the better is changing Hosmer for a great arm … Great article … GERMAN PADRES FAN

    1. If wishes were horses… Trading Hosmer and putting Wil back at first where he felt confident would solve two problems, possibly three, if the right package can be put together to nab a quality starting pitcher.
      It’s great to have a German Padres fan, Mathias (my grandfather came from Germany). Thanks for your interest.

  3. We need pitching. Trade hosmer for good arm. Put Myers at first. That is where he excels. I blame management for Myers not performing. And Myers knows it. The signing of hosmer is what killed him.

    1. I couldn’t agree more, Mike,
      I was simply astonished when the Padres took on Hosmer and that contract. Aside from the Royals no other team showed the slightest interest in Hosmer, especially with that price tag. If Myers had stayed at first, he’d be more comfortable, which would probably show up at the plate.
      If the Padres can trade Hosmer for a good arm, we should hold a parade. Without eating a bunch of salary and including a top prospect or two, I can’t imagine any team biting.
      Thanks for reading,

  4. Thanks for another perceptive article. This is what it looks like when a club has no idea what it’s doing.
    He’s our CF, oops he’s not.
    He’s our 1Bman and a star, so let’s pay him like that. Oops, changed our mind about that.
    He’s our LF, no wait, our 3Bman. Oops, that 3B thing really didn’t work out, so..
    Back to LF, no wait, let’s try CF again.
    Wait, we can’t make up our mind, so let’s shuttle him back and forth between CF and LF.
    If Myers were making $5 mil a year, no one would care. In fact we’d be regarding him as a Zobrist-like utility player.
    As for what can be done, it’s either live with him and hope he rebounds, or swallow the cost and trade him for peanuts.

    1. Hello Tom,
      You’re absolutely right about Myers’ salary. Next year that becomes a huge issue. I have to think that the Padres have played a big part in Myers’ inability to play up to his potential, especially by playing him in center and, worse, at third. It will be very interesting to see what happens in the off-season.
      Thanks for reading and commenting,

    2. I think this is a huge part of the problem: the constant changing of positions has messed with Myers’ head. It’s also telling that even while he was a burgeoning talent, both KC and Tampa traded him. It looks like they saw something, and it bothered them.

      1. Hello Greg,
        Center and, worse, third base, have probably really messed with Myers’ head. He’s subpar in center but really lost at third. Plus, he must have been humiliated.
        The Padres probably should have paid more attention to the fact that two good organizations traded him despite his tools.
        Overall, this hasn’t worked out for the Padres or Myers, and, frankly, it’s sad to see such talent go to waste.

  5. Wil Myers started having hitting problems after he participated in the All Star Home Run Derby when the Game was held in San Diego at Petco. It has been pointed out that participation in the derby can mess up one’s batting mechanics and timing.

    1. Hello and thanks for your comment,
      Although the Home Run Derby has been blamed for messing up guys’ mechanics, that was several years ago. With his talent, you’d think he could have gotten back on track by now. Of course, having multiple batting coaches doesn’t help either…

  6. Wil Myers started having hitting paroblems after he participated in the All Star Home Run Derby when the Game was held in San Diego at Petco. It has been pointed out that participation in the derby can mess up one’s batting mechanics and timing.

  7. I agree the problem is above the neck. I don’t believe it is a lack of “fire” that successful athletes possess. In fact it may be too much “fire”, or desire to win. Meyers doesn’t deal with failure, a major drawback in a sport that makes you an all timer with 30% success in hitting. I’m not sure what happens to him, but I experienced failure as a player and I didn’t deal with so well either. I also didn’t make my living doing it. He does.

    His peers consistently rate him superior in every facet of the game and say his athleticism is off the charts. “Stupid strong” which is high praise. So with all of these top tier physical skills what could the problem be? It has to be between the ears because there’s nothing left to blame. You can see it in his face at times. A pained expression that doesn’t communicate lack of fire to me. It looks like psychic pain from not playing well. And it apparently takes over his brain. Because that is when you see him freeze in the batters’ box. Taking fastballs right down the middle of the plate. And it appears then he starts guessing pitches and freezing when he’s wrong, around half the time. None of that computes to lack of anything other than emotional control or regulation, a psychological issue. His nonchalance is all affected. Like he doesn’t care when it is actually killing him. I think he dies a little every time he fails and its’ eating his lunch. Let’s get him a good sports psychologist this off season and see how that goes. I’ve always felt there was something with the family behind it all. It was after an interview about them that didn’t feel right. The margin for failure at the major league level is small. A brain not performing well would certainly provide that margin.

    1. Hi Spike,
      You obviously have a point there. We can’t get into anyone else’s head, and Myers’ problem could certainly stem from anxiety. But often he seems just lackadaisical. A sports psychologist would help in either case. It is painful to see so much talent go unused.
      It’s telling that two good organizations, the Royals and Rays, parted ways with him despite his talents. In the meantime, the Padres have severely messed with his mind, which is obviously totally counterproductive.

    1. Thanks for reading, Steven. It will be interesting to see if the Padres try to move Myers and that contract in the offseason or stick with him.

  8. What I don’t understand is why so many elite players, after being financially set for life, can stay motivated to play a really tough game at a high level. It’s more than pride!

    1. Hi Terry,
      My dad actually played professional baseball, mostly in the minor leagues. He made it to the Cardinals for the proverbial cup of coffee but was driven to keep trying to live his dream. Until I was eight, we lived in some real hot, steamy places in lousy apartments and even motels. Players like my dad will stay motivated despite big contracts thanks to a competitive drive.

  9. Well written Diane, I think much has been commented on as far as his nonchalant ie; problems “between the ears”. But as most of us fans have noticed the most alarming facet is his strikeouts. He just can’t make contact enough and that’s a physical issue. Not everyone gets a long career and it very well could be that he’s done.

    As far as AJ Preiller, we have a “scout” and not a GM on our hands. Opportunities pass the Padres by and he’s not making the adjustments to lead the team forward. Guys are coming to the Big Leagues to learn the game (with the exception of Tatis Jr) when most shouldn’t be here until they’ve been developed properly to be successful. Of course, not everyone pans out, but the frequency of failure is unacceptable.

    1. Thank you, John,
      I appreciate your thoughtful comment. Myers and most of the hitters on this team have problems with strikeouts. Last time I checked the team leads MLB in strikeouts. It very well may be getting to crunch time for the organization to decide if Preller is more of a scout than a G.M.

  10. “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.”

    This is a great description of Myers. He is a player with no true position, but athletically able to fake it through, until teams find the weakness. In the outfield (last year) slowness to the ball caused teams to always take the extra base. This year he gets to the ball quick and throws the ball back in with no real authority…kind of like a little leaguer just wanting to get the ball and attention away from him.

    Myers hitting approach (put Hedges in this mix) is to pull the ball….even the ball on the outside of the plate..and beyond. Both possess great power to right field, but rarely chose to utilize it, instead they flail at hitting balls on the outer portion of the plate, as their approach is middle in. Failure to make adjustments, no problem MLB pitchers have and the results play out in no ball contact, with excessive strikeouts.

    I am starting to question Prellers prowess to find, draft and develop players that possess more than physical ability, but ability to think and make adjustments as they move through the system.

    Sadly and with great disdain, I remark, whatever the Dodgers are doing to find, draft and develop players the Padre organization needs some of that skill.

    Come on!!!

    1. Thanks for your very thoughtful comments. Preller most definitely needs to look beyond just the physical to the mental side of the game. The Dodgers certainly have more success in finding players like Justin Turner (released by the Mets) and Chris Taylor who can play multiple positions well and are imbued with baseball smarts and a winning attitude.

  11. It’s obvious to me that Myers is a very athletic individual but unfortunately in some situations that doesn’t translate into the makings of a potentially great player, as in his case. It’s been so sad to watch.

    1. I couldn’t agree with you more. It is sad to watch. Instead of being really good to great, Myers has sunk into mediocrity. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

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Diane Calkins
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.