Padres sign Wil Myers to six-year, $83 million extension

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  • Wil Myers
    Wil Myers
    American baseball player
Wil Myers committed to the Padres for six seasons. (Getty Images/Andy Hayt)
Wil Myers committed to the Padres for six seasons. (Getty Images/Andy Hayt)

Wil Myers isn’t leaving San Diego any time soon. A few days after the Chargers deserted the city for Los Angeles, the San Diego Padres reached an agreement to keep their cornerstone first baseman around for at least another six seasons.

The deal is worth $83 million, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. The structure of Myers’ salary is unusual, however. Myers will make just two million in 2017, three million in 2018 and then see his salary jump to $20 million for the final three years of the deal. There’s also a $20 million option, meaning the deal could wind up being seven years total.

The first three years of the deal will cover Myers’ remaining arbitration-eligible seasons. The final four years of the contract will cover what would have been Myers’ free-agent years. That probably explains the strange structure behind Myers’ yearly salaries. Once official, the deal will become the largest contract in franchise history, surpassing the four-year, $75 million deal signed by James Shields in 2015.

The 26-year-old turned in a career-year for San Diego in 2016. Over 676 plate appearances, Myers hit .259/.336/.461, with 28 home runs. That performance earned him his first trip to the All-Star game.

Myers’ talent has been well-known for quite some time, but injuries have impacted his development. After winning the American League Rookie of the Year award in 2013, Myers saw his numbers decline due to a right wrist injury the following season.

He was traded to the Padres following a disappointing 2015, but again experienced wrist issues, this time on his left side. While his numbers rebounded somewhat, Myers was limited to just 60 games due to those injuries.

In an effort to keep Myers healthy, the Padres moved him to first base full-time for the 2016 season. That seemed to work, as Myers played in a career-high 157 games and turned in his finest year as a pro.

Wil Myers was great in 2016, but his extension is a risk. (Getty Images/Sean M. Haffey)
Wil Myers was great in 2016, but his extension is a risk. (Getty Images/Sean M. Haffey)

While things seem to be trending up for the 26-year-old, the extension does come with plenty of risk. Myers doesn’t have the greatest history of staying on the field, and it’s tough to know whether he’s fully over those issues after an injury-free 2016.

Though the move to first probably helps in that sense, it also makes his bat less valuable. Last year, first baseman combined to hit .255/.334/.447. Right fielders, Myers’ former spot, hit a combined .257/.327/.425. The difference isn’t huge, though 20 points of slugging isn’t nothing, but Myers’ bat would be more valuable in a corner outfield spot. At first base, his numbers are muted by the elite sluggers.

For comparison, the last significant extension signed by a first baseman came in April, when the San Francisco Giants inked Brandon Belt to a six-year, $79 million deal. Belt was a year older than Myers at the time he signed the deal, but also had performed better during his career. Prior to signing the deal, Belt posted a .271/.347/.456 slash line over five seasons. Myers’ career line is .257/.331/.429 over four years.

In order for Myers to live up to the deal, he’ll have to walk a tightrope. Staying healthy is key for any player who signs a long-term deal, but is a bigger concern for Myers since he’s already had significant injuries. And though he was a strong hitter last year, he’ll have to keep up that level of production for his bat to pass at first base. If he sees even a slight decline, it becomes harder to justify running him out there at a position full of elite hitters.

Despite those risks, the Padres probably still pretty good locking up their best player for the foreseeable future. San Diego doesn’t exactly have the most exciting team heading into 2017, but Myers is one of their few bright spots. By keeping him around, they are telling the fans he’ll be a building block of the next great Padres team. Myers is the guy fans can rally around over the next few years while the team works its way back to contention. That has value.

Whether that’s worth $83 million is a legitimate question. While that seems like a lot, Myers’ average yearly salary of $13.8 million isn’t excessive in today’s game. The deal is still a significant risk considering Myers’ new position and injury history, but if he can perform like he did in 2016, the Padres will wind up doing just fine here.

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

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