The San Diego Padres wanted to move Myers and the $60 million remaining on his base contract before the start of the 2020 season. However, it’s looking more and more like he will be part of the team on Opening Day.
Once upon a time, Wil Myers was the highest-paid player on the Padres. It seems so long ago.
Despite efforts to move Myers, it looks like, for now, he will stay in San Diego. The Padres can only hope he bounces back. Overall, since signing his extension, Myers has been a colossal disappointment. He is batting .244 with a .768 OPS, 105 OPS+, and averaging 20 home runs and 1.3 WAR in the three years since his extension.
Let’s compare him to Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon, who signed his extension at age 31, five years older than Myers, for six years, $108 million. The yearly salary is just over $21 million, right around where Myers will be annually from here on out. In the two seasons since his extension, Blackmon has a .302 average, .898 OPS, 119 OPS+, over 30 homers per year, and 4.8 total fWAR. Those are numbers that justify a large contract, unlike what Myers has produced.
What kind of season does Wil Myers need to have in 2020 to justify that large contract and win over the Friar faithful once again?
FanGraphs projects Myers to be mildly disappointing once more, with a .240/.318/.440 line, a 102 OPS+, and 1.5 WAR. That would be an improvement from 2019 when he recorded a .739 OPS, 95 OPS+, and -0.3. WAR. Still, most would consider that underwhelming given the contract.
|Myers (3 years)||0.244||0.768||105||59||1.0|
|Blackmon (2 years)||0.302||0.898||119||61||2.4|
For $20 million per season, it’s justified to expect a season much like Blackmon had in 2019, with 32 home runs, a .940 OPS, and 123 OPS+ with 3.2 WAR. The unofficial “going rate” is about $6.5 million per year per WAR. So if Myers is earning $20 million base salary, using this formula, one would expect him to produce around a 3 WAR.
Myers does have a 3-plus WAR season under his belt, back in 2016, his lone All-Star appearance, when he notched 3.5 WAR. That season, he hit 28 home runs, with a .797 OPS and a 115 OPS+. The wrench in the equation is that he was a first baseman that season, thus his defensive value was different than it would be in 2020 in the outfield.
Myers was a serviceable and, at times, a solid defensive first baseman, with 8 Defensive Runs Saved in 2016. In the two years that Myers has played outfield, he has totaled -2 Defensive Runs Saved, bouncing around each outfield spot. He is a decent defender in the corner spots but is outside of his element in centerfield.
|Myers WAR by season w/SD (via Baseball Ref)|
Thus, his defense will also have to improve if he is to achieve 3 WAR or have an even better offensive season to make up for his slightly below-average defense.
Myers essentially needs to put together a season of at least 3 WAR to win back the hearts of San Diego Padres fans as well as justify that gaudy contract. It might be wishful thinking, but he does have a little history of accomplishing such a season. Padres fans would likely be ecstatic if he can even come close to his 2016 production.