When the San Diego Padres acquired Wil Myers in December 2014, he was a talented, injury-prone enigma. Two years and change later, he has a chance to be a franchise cornerstone.
On Friday, Myers and the Padres agreed to a six-year extension worth "more than $80 million," per Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal.
The deal buys out three of Myers' arbitration years and three years of potential free agency and keeps him in San Diego through his 31st birthday. Essentially, the Friars just went all-in on Myers' prime.
If you're in a pessimistic mood, Myers has flaws. We'll highlight them shortly. The Padres, however, haven't had a winning season since 2010, haven't tasted the postseason since 2006 and have defined dysfunction under general manager A.J. Preller.
Let's start with the positive.
Myers enjoyed his best big league season in 2016, hitting 28 home runs with 28 stolen bases and 94 RBI. He made his first National League All-Star team. He graded out as an excellent defensive first baseman who also has experience at all three outfield spots, per FanGraphs.
It was, by almost any measure, the year Myers boosters had been waiting for since 2013. That's when Myers won American League Rookie of the Year honors with the Tampa Bay Rays after posting a .911 OPS in the minors and appeared ticketed for stardom.
Now, he belongs to the Pads for the foreseeable future. And, more good news, they appear to have gotten him for below market rate. The ZiPS projection system pegged his value considerably higher than the amount Rosenthal reported, as ESPN.com's Dan Szymborski noted:
Dan Szymborski @DSzymborski
ZiPS approves of Myers extension - with projected arb awards, ZiPS suggested 6/94.2017-1-13 20:47:20
So there's the glass-half-full take: The Padres inked a special player who appears to be coming into his own for a relative bargain. He can anchor a young core that figures to include top outfield prospects Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe and help usher San Diego back to contention after years in the woods.
After jettisoning veterans such as Matt Kemp, Melvin Upton Jr. and James Shields, the Padres can turn to Myers for leadership, as well.
CBS Sports' Dayn Perry called it a "sensible" move, which counts as high praise given San Diego's recent track record.
Alright, now for the caveats.
Last season was the first time in his MLB career Myers played more than 100 games. He's made multiple trips to the disabled list in his brief big league tenure, centered around lingering left wrist issues. In his first season with San Diego, the wonky wrist landed him on the 60-day DL.
Myers played 157 games last season, so you could argue he put much of that behind him. His performance, however, tailed off significantly in the second half:
|Wil Myers: A Tale of Two Seasons....|
|'16 First Half||.286||.873||19||60|
|'16 Second Half||.223||.697||9||34|
|Stats courtesy of FanGraphs|
"I know I've been horrendous in the second half," Myers said in September, per Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. "This is just a learning tool. I've not been this bad for this long of time in any level of baseball. It's just the way it goes sometimes."
Myers insisted he wasn't injured. Instead, he suggested, it was merely him getting used to the rigors of a full MLB campaign.
"Being my first full season here in the big leagues and my first full season in three years, you find out what the grind is like," he said, per Lin.
That's something to keep an eye on in 2017. If Myers can replicate his 2016 production, though, he'll be worth every penny of his reported deal.
The Padres are more significant now. With the Chargers moving to Los Angeles, the Pads become San Diego's only professional sports franchise.
With monopolistic power comes great responsibility. Perhaps Myers can shoulder the load.
We're talking about a guy who knocked on the door of a 30/30 season. If his injury issues are in the past and last year's second-half slide was an issue of conditioning, it's easy to imagine him getting MVP votes.
Nothing is guaranteed. Pads fans have every right to be skeptical based on recent history. From most angles, though, this looks like a savvy move.
Smile, Friars faithful—you've earned that much.
All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.