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What does Myers' future with Padres look like?

By AJ Cassavell | @AJCassavell

December 11, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- Five years ago, at the very same Manchester Grand Hyatt in downtown San Diego, Padres general manager A.J. Preller laid the groundwork for a blockbuster three-team trade that netted Wil Myers.

Perhaps it's fitting that half a decade later, Preller is at the same locale, once again discussing the status of the right-handed-hitting slugger he once planned to build his offense around.

As things stand, the Padres plan to open the 2020 season with Myers as their right fielder. But -- as we've seen with Myers in the past -- Preller's plans are subject to change.

Sources have indicated that Myers remains very available in a potential trade this winter. Right now, it seems like a tossup as to whether he'll be with the club on Opening Day.

But how, exactly, would the Padres move Myers (and the $61 million remaining on his contract)? That's the tough part. San Diego would almost certainly need to eat a chunk of Myers' deal. At the very least, Preller might look to swap burdensome contracts with another team, perhaps in pursuit of a pitcher. The Padres could try to include a mid-level prospect or two in order to sweeten the deal, but that's a route Preller would prefer to avoid.

Since his December 2014 arrival, Myers has posted a .249/.328/.447 slash line with 95 home runs. But those numbers don't quite tell the entire story. His inconsistency has been maddening.

Myers was a bona fide All-Star starter in 2016, and he's reached that level of performance at various points during his tenure. But he has a habit of falling into prolonged slumps, which he can't shake. His performance plummeted so steeply in June, he was relegated to a bench role.

Then, as Myers is wont to do, he offered reason for optimism seemingly out of nowhere. Three-quarters of the way into his most disappointing season as a Padre, Myers became a different hitter entirely . Down the stretch, he was arguably the Padres' most impactful bat, posting a .312/.365/.532 slash line in 25 September games.

"We all know what Wil can do upside-wise," Preller said during his Winter Meetings media session Tuesday. "... The expectation for us is that he's going to come in and play. He knows he's capable of playing good baseball. He's capable of being a lot better than what we saw here last year. We expect that from him going forward."

Myers turned 29 on Tuesday, and he's entering the eighth season of an up-and-down career. His performance has been so erratic and unpredictable that, in a way, it has become predictable.

And that's what makes a potential Myers trade so tricky. The Padres have a significant amount of money invested in him over the next three seasons. If they can't agree to a deal, they seem genuinely content to keep Myers and let him fight for playing time in a crowded outfield. But if they can move his salary, it would free up money to address holes elsewhere on their roster.

In a way, the rest of the Padres' offseason might hinge on their ability to trade Myers.

Worth noting

• Preller said Adrian Morejon is "good to go" after a left shoulder impingement put an early end to his rookie season. The 20-year-old lefty is ranked as the team's No. 6 prospect by MLB Pipeline, and he was a surprise addition to the bullpen after the Trade Deadline last year. But he'll be stretched back toward a starter's workload next spring.

• The Padres remain in search of relief help, and evidently a reunion with right-hander Craig Stammen isn't off the table. Stammen posted a 3.06 ERA in three seasons with San Diego before hitting the free-agent market this winter. The Padres have already added left-hander Drew Pomeranz, but they seem committed to building a deep and experienced bullpen to complement a young rotation.

• Padres director of player development Ben Sestanovich has been hired as an assistant general manager for the Braves, according to a source. Sestanovich is well regarded within the organization and has served alongside farm director Sam Geaney in cultivating one of the best groups of prospects in baseball.