Padres’ GM A.J. Preller has expressed his willingness to sit down with his All-Star first baseman and discuss the potential of working out a contract extension according to a report from Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The 25-year-old right-handed slugger established himself as one of the top first basemen in the league in 2016, while hitting 15 percent above the league average by wRC+. By FanGraphs’ WAR, Myers finished eighth in all of baseball among first basemen.
A.J. Preller said he plans to sit down with Wil Myers' agent this week to begin exploring an extension.— Dennis Lin (@sdutdennislin) November 9, 2016
When he was traded from the Tampa Bay Rays, there was still some uncertainty about Myers’ future in the league. While he showed undeniable ability at the plate, his future was still thought to be in the outfield. Instead though, Myers has found a home at first base with the Padres, and seems to thrive.
While locking Myers up longer term might be a priority for the Padres, there is no real urgency to the matter. Myers is arbitration-eligible through the 2019 season and is therefore under team control until then as well. Myers will hit his first year of arbitration this offseason, and won’t cost particularly much to retain despite hitting 28 home runs. MLB Trade Rumors projects that Myers will be worth $4.7 million if he reaches arbitration, a fraction of his $30.7 million value estimated by FanGraphs’ $/WAR metric.
While a deal isn’t necessarily urgent for either side, looking to work one out now can serve multiple purposes. First, avoiding arbitration is a chief concern of teams. The arbitration process can be less-than-desirable, as it forces teams to argue that their player is worth less than they think they are worth. Most players and teams end up avoiding arbitration with one- or two-year bridge contracts as a result.
Second, it shows an early willingness by the Padres to build around Myers. With some uncertainty in the Padres’ future, and Myers’ name showing up in trade rumors, it’s a worthwhile endeavor to show that player that you’d like to keep him. Offering a longer-term contract and committing some payroll to ensure a player feels at home could be a good way for Preller to show his commitment to the team following a league suspension.
In all likelihood, a longer-term deal probably won’t get worked out as Myers has too much team control remaining. However, a deal in the three-to-five year ranges might be worked out to eat up Myers’ arbitration years plus a tad longer; something like what Mike Trout did in 2014 when he signed a six-year extension worth $144.5 million. The 25-year-old Myers would certainly command less than that, but the precedent is there for teams to sign young, cornerstone talent.