SAN DIEGO -- Two years ago, the Padres entered the offseason with a clear goal: find a way to lock up William Myers. Then 25, Myers was coming off an All-Star season, and he finished two homers and two steals shy of becoming the franchise's first 30-30 player.By January, it
SAN DIEGO -- Two years ago, the Padres entered the offseason with a clear goal: find a way to lock up William Myers. Then 25, Myers was coming off an All-Star season, and he finished two homers and two steals shy of becoming the franchise's first 30-30 player.
By January, it was mission accomplished. Myers signed a six-year contract worth $83 million to be the Padres' first baseman of the future. His long-term place was seemingly secure.
Since then, 21 months have passed, and quite a few questions have emerged about Myers' long-term place in San Diego -- if it's in San Diego at all.
The Padres signed Eric Hosmer to supplant Myers at first, which moved Myers to the outfield. Then, Franmil Reyes and Hunter Renfroe broke out in 2018, anchoring the corner outfield spots and sending Myers to third, where he struggled defensively.
All the while, Myers posted a middling .253/.318/.446 slash line and missed nearly half the season due to various injuries. There's no denying Myers' potential, but he's coming off a frustrating year, and the Padres seemingly have four options as to how they proceed:
1. Push forward with Myers at third
Some of the criticism lobbed at Myers for his performance at third was unfair. Before 2018, he'd never played there for any extended period of time, and he was given only a few weeks to learn the position's nuances before he was thrown into the fire.
That said, the results weren't pretty, and Myers simply cannot play third unless he improves dramatically. Myers, for one, is convinced he will.
"People love to judge after  games at third base," Myers said. "Listen, I ain't played a great third base, but I don't really know what I'm doing yet. As soon as I get comfortable, get confident, get to my glove side instead of backhanding, I know I'll be able to play third base."
Myers readily admits he needs to hone his footwork, his reactions and his ability to play balls with his forehand. (He thinks his backhand tendencies are the result of two years spent at first base, where the backhand is used often for a righty thrower.) Until the Padres tell him otherwise, he's planning to address all those issues this offseason and during Spring Training.
"Once I break the bad habits, I'll be able to play third base," Myers said.
2. Move Myers back to the outfield
In a vacuum, this is probably the logical move. Myers was solid defensively in left field, and that's clearly where he brings the most value right now.
"He played a really good left field for us," said general manager A.J. Preller.
"I take a lot of pride in the way I played left field," Myers said.
Thing is, this scenario probably helps the Padres least of all. They need a long-term third baseman. They already have Reyes and Renfroe in the corners. Myers, another right-handed slugger, seems redundant, given that the Padres already have depth options in Franchy Cordero and Travis Jankowski.
This scenario might revolve around either Renfroe or Reyes being dealt -- a distinct possibility. If all three stay (and all three remain corner outfielders) it'd be quite the competition for playing time.
3. Make Myers a versatile asset who can play multiple positions
Here's an option that splits the difference. When the Padres started playing Myers at third base, this was precisely what they had in mind. If Myers could play third and left, that could help the Padres play a matchup game. On rare occasions, they envisioned, he might even be able to shift to center.
But third base has proven a challenge for Myers. It's a big ask for him to handle multiple spots, especially if doing so would hinder his development at third. Executive chairman Ron Fowler said last month he'd like to find a set position for Myers.
It's easy to dream on Myers' athleticism. The big leagues are currently filled with dozens of valuable players who can play multiple spots. Think of Kristopher Bryant or Cody Bellinger and the way they add lineup flexibility to their respective clubs.
But defensively, Myers is a long way from being able to contribute on that level.
4. Trade Myers
Here's where things get tricky.
There's no obvious place for Myers on the field. That makes him a clear trade candidate, right?
Well, his contract complicates things. Myers is owed $74 million over the remainder of his back-loaded deal. Coming off a down year, the Padres almost certainly would be selling low on Myers, and they might have to eat some of that money.
In any case, Preller is almost certain to explore that option. Just like he's going to explore the other three -- even if it means dealing Renfroe or Reyes.
"We'll get into the offseason and talk about what's the best configuration for our club," Preller said. "We have some depth at different positions that I'm sure will be discussed with other teams as well. ... [We'll] figure out what's the best mix."
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.