To acquire Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg, the Padres must first trade Wil Myers

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The San Diego Padres need an ace, and two of them may soon be available on the open market, but can the team afford either with the burden of Wil Myers’ contract looming?

For the past two offseasons, Ron Fowler and the San Diego Padres have opened up the vault to bring top free agents to America’s Finest City. First, it was Eric Hosmer and his $144 million deal made in 2018; then, the Padres won the Manny Machado sweepstakes this past offseason with a 10-year, $300 million contract.

Now, they have a chance to make a similar deal, but this time for a top of the rotation pitcher. Gerrit Cole of the Houston Astros and, should he choose to opt-out, Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals will be hitting the free-agent market hungry for a lucrative new contract.

The Padres are a great spot for either of the pitchers. Strasburg, a San Diego State University alum, would be returning to the city where he grew up in while Cole would enter as the clear top dog in the rotation while serving as a mentor to another player with a similar bulldog-like attitude in Chris Paddack.

However, as super-agent Scott Boras represents both players, there is no doubt that the two aces will be looking for a contract that blows past the seven-year, $217 million contract that David Price inked in 2015. Whichever team that wants them to don their colors in 2020 and beyond will most likely have to pay an annual of over 30 million dollars per year.

While San Diego certainly has the space in the treasury to tack on another $30+ million AAV contract at the moment, the future may not be so kind. Taking the projected arbitration salaries from MLBTraderumors into account as well as the current salaries that the Padres will be paying in 2020, the San Diego payroll currently sits at $121,850,000 million (this number assumes that the Padres tender contracts to all 12 of their arbitration-eligible players while declining their options to Adam Warren and Aaron Loup).

Adding an extra $30 million annually will bring that number just above 150 million dollars in 2020. With the 2020 luxury tax threshold set at $208 million, that gives the Padres a lot less wiggle room when it comes to extending other players or making smaller signings while trying to limbo under the luxury tax threshold. It is a problem that the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs currently have as they balance which contracts to keep and which ones to dump off.

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However, there is a way to clear up some of that cash to create some breathing space for San Diego, trading Wil Myers.

Myers, who signed a six-year, 83 million dollar deal in 2017, hasn’t done much to live up to that deal. After compiling a 3.5 WAR and 114 WRC+ in 2016, Myers has since struggled to put up numbers similar to that since signing his contract. His 2019 season was his worst as a Padre as he ended with a 0.5 WAR, 96 wRC+, and a career-worst 34.4% strikeout rate. With his contract jumping from $5.5 million to a whopping $22.5 million for the next three years.

With $67.5 million to be paid out over the next three years, the contract of Myers has become an albatross for a team that will be looking to make another splash in the free-agent market. Don’t forget that, if they become the stars the San Diego front brass hope they become, players like Fernando Tatis Jr., MacKenzie Gore, and Paddack will be looking for big-money contracts with high AAV amounts as well.

With AAV’s of $32 million (Machado), $22.5 million (Myers), $21 million (Hosmer), and the potential of adding another contract that pays out Machado money, there will be precious space to not only pay the Padres young stars, but to sign other players to smaller contracts to fill out other positions on the field. While San Diego does have team control over their young studs for at least another four to five years, there is no doubt that AJ Preller and company will want to lock them up to long term deals that wipe out the arbitration process, similar to the route the Atlanta Braves took with Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies.

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To trade away Myers, Fowler himself stated the Padres would have to eat $10 million at minimum to even begin trade negotiations with another team. This amount might be too low given Myers’ struggles at both the dish and the outfield, so San Diego will have to be ready to eat half of the Myers’ contract while pairing him with a top prospect to ship him off. There is the option to swap one bad contract for another bad contract, but that would be a counter-productive move that would bring the Padres right back to square one.

Even if San Diego swallows $30 million of Myers remaining $67.5, that is still more than $30 million they are saving for their future. Since a trade of Hosmer and his equally questionable contract is out of the question thanks to a full no-trade clause through 2020 (which does change to only a partial no-trade clause after 2020), the former Rookie of the Year and his contract have now become the odd man out.

The dealing of Myers will free up the cap space that is needed to not only net the services of Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg but to provide for the future of Padres baseball. Preller has already made multiple attempts to trade the infielder-turned-outfielder, but the time to pull the trigger on a deal is now.

16 thoughts on “To acquire Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg, the Padres must first trade Wil Myers

  1. forget Cole/ Stras were mired in myers/Machado $$$$ go after Wheeler trade for Boyd and Keep Tatis healthy & quit calling him Jr. GO PADRES

  2. For all those questions surrounding the decision making surrounding Wil Meyers, AK Preller and the Padres, since the contract he’s averaged 20 hrs, 20 steals and an OBP of around .320. When you read that then pause and look at the contracts and production of the following:

    Jason Heyward, Pablo Sandoval, Yasmany Thomas, Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo, Rusney Castillo, David Price, Ian Desmond, Miguel Cabrera, Jordan Zimmerman, Albert Pujols, the list could go on regarding (progressively) albatross contracts. However you want to compare contracts and abilities take a look at the Angel’s contract with Justin Upton his production and Wil Meyers, my view slight advantage Angel’s and Upton but he’s older and is in decline. Meyers retains more diversity and higher potential for production. So as Tanned Tom says this isn’t as much of an anchor contract we would all jump to conclude.

  3. Offer Myers a “golden paracute”. This means that you release him and pay him out over 20 years. Eating 3 MM is not so bad, and it would give salary flexibility. Or offer him a coaching position for the 3MM assign him to the minor leagues and then the salary wont be on the padres team salary reported to MLB.

  4. Obviously some people do not understand math. Look at Hosmer’s numbers this year 99 RBIs 21 home runs how many other players in baseball have those numbers plus it gold Glove first baseman. Hosmer is in the prime of his health and has a World Series ring to go with it Meijer’s keeps breaking down and doesn’t have any such numbers except Rookie of the Year years and years ago. Hosmer will also help the young players and he will hit in a hundred plus RBIs if the table is set before him that is Young hitters to get on base in front of him. Course that’s also Machado needs as well. Obviously you didn’t watch but we need pitching.

    1. Current baseball analysis does not rely on counting stats like RBIs or HRs. Instead it utilizes metrics like wRC+ and WAR.
      Fangraphs has a page for each team that spells out how valuable players are at bat, in the field and on the basepaths.

  5. The premise of the article is false. It is not necessary to trade Myers to afford Cole and Strasburg.
    1) The club has $96 mil committed to next year, with most players pre-arbitration. We’re looking at maybe $115 mil when all is said and done. Adding two $30 mil players would leave the payroll at $175. If you think the club can contend for significantly less you are dreaming. It will take this kind of money to be competitive.
    2) There is no way the club will save very much money on Myers. If he were a free agent he’d be looking at a minor league deal. Without attaching prospects, or taking a bad contract back, there is no way we’re going to save anything more than $20 mil in total. No other club will value Myers at more than $7 mil per year. And Myers is worth that to SD because he can be platooned at 1B, and spend the rest of his time in LF. It may be hard to swallow, but he might have more value on the roster than off.
    3) As other posters have mentioned, Hosmer is the real contract killing the team. Unfortunately the only option there is to platoon him, hope he has a good year, then try like hell to trade him after 2020 when his NTC becomes only partial.

    1. I like your analysis. Adding two pitchers like Cole or Strasburg or bumgarner at a cost of $60mm a year places them at the top along with the future rookie and/or pre arbitration talent. The contract of Meyers becomes less significant if he hits .250 and 20 homers and 20 stolen bases, which is a reasonable expectation. If they need to dump his contract wait until 2021 or 2022. In the meantime they’ll have twofold three 15-20 game winners with a stacked rotation going into 2020 And beyond.

  6. I remember when padres fans defended the Hosmer deal by saying, “so what? Even if it doesn’t work out, it’s only money!” Well… here we are.

  7. Only thing I’d say is that Hosmer’s contract is so much worse than Myers. In fact, it isn’t remotely close. Myers produces more, makes far less, is a much more flexible player, and doesn’t have a no trade clause.

    The Hosmer signing may be the biggest “if” that can keep SD from a championship.

    1. You are right. But that is not an “if,” Hosmer is killing this team. The only options are, if they want to win, to bench him, with an occasional start against select righties, or to just admit the mistake and cut him, and eat the money. Yes, that is horrible, but preferable–that is just an indicator of how bad Hosmer is. This would at least save a roster spot, and keep him from doing his damage in the field, on the base path, and at the plate (his numbers continue to decline).

      If the Padres simply dedicated first base to Myers he’d be MUCH more productive.

  8. The only way I see them getting rid of Meyers, is dealing one of their top prospects away with him. They won’t get anything in return, but getting out of that contract is the ultimate goal. Is there a bigger doofus then Meyers in all of baseball? Can’t hit, play D, run the bases or wear his hat properly. Please someone take him!

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