Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Around the Horn: Myers front-runner for LF spot

Versatile defender leads logjam of outfield hopefuls heading into Spring Training
January 21, 2019

With Spring Training on the horizon, MLB.com is taking an in-depth look at the 2019 Padres, breaking the team down position-by-position. Today we preview the San Diego left fielders.Around the Horn series:C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3BSAN DIEGO -- For months, it seemed a foregone conclusion that

With Spring Training on the horizon, MLB.com is taking an in-depth look at the 2019 Padres, breaking the team down position-by-position. Today we preview the San Diego left fielders.
Around the Horn series:C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B
SAN DIEGO -- For months, it seemed a foregone conclusion that Padres general manager A.J. Preller would deal from his outfield depth.
William Myers, Hunter Renfroe and Franmil Reyes are all righty-hitting corner outfielders with similar profiles at the plate. Travis Jankowski and Franchy Cordero are also capable of playing all three outfield spots, and it's still possible Francisco Mejia transitions to a part-time left-field role as well.
Preller, if he doesn't make a trade, simply has too many options for the Opening Day roster. Plus, he has glaring holes at third base and in the rotation, which would seem to make a deal even more likely.
And yet, it's nearly February, and the Padres haven't pared down their outfield options. That's telling.
San Diego, sources say, has regularly fielded calls about its outfield excess this offseason. But this much is clear: Preller values his own outfielders more than rival GMs do right now.
There's no reason to expect that to change, and the Padres could enter camp with six full-time outfielders for, at most, five roster places. Keeping the focus on left field, we can eliminate Reyes (who played right field exclusively last season) and Manuel Margot (center) from the conversation.
That leaves Myers and Renfroe as the likeliest starters in left. It's possible (and maybe even likely) that both are in the Opening Day lineup, in which case, Renfroe would probably shift to right field where his otherworldly arm plays so well.

Myers is clearly the early favorite to start in left field, and he's going to play there exclusively. That's quite the shift from his first four seasons in San Diego, where he's been anything but settled. Myers started as a center fielder in 2015, moved to first base in '16, then spent time in both outfield corners and at third last season.
There's still a possibility Myers is traded. But if he isn't, he'll head to Peoria, Ariz., with a crystal-clear vision of what his role will be.
Projected starter: Myers
Potential backups: Renfroe, Cordero, Jankowski, Mejia, Jose Pirela
Top 30 prospects: No. 15 Josh Naylor, No. 16 Tirso Ornelas, No. 19 Jeisson Rosario, No. 27 Grant Little, No. 28. Edward Olivares
Best-case scenario
Myers is healthy. (That's no small feat, given that Myers missed nearly half of last season while on the disabled list with three different ailments.) After last summer's ill-fated move to third base, Myers thrives with a more settled position. He rediscovers his All-Star form from 2016 and puts forth the dynamic 30-homer, 30-steal season he's been shooting for.
With Myers entrenched in left field, the Padres trade one of their young, affordable right-field options in a package for a big-time starting pitcher. Let's say it's Renfroe. That leaves Reyes, Cordero and Margot to split time among the other two spots, while Jankowski serves as a speed threat and a defensive replacement.

Worst-case scenario
Myers struggles with the same inconsistency that's plagued him during his tenure in San Diego. He shows flashes of his All-Star self, but he mostly slumps at the plate, carrying over his poor results from the final two months of the 2018 season.
Still, the Padres have a lot of money committed to Myers -- $64 million over the next four seasons, to be exact. So he keeps playing, taking valuable development time from promising youngsters like Reyes and Cordero. Ultimately, there aren't enough at-bats to go around, and none of the corner-outfield options truly thrives.
A reasonable prediction
Consider this for a moment: The Padres have six outfielders they feel are capable of starting. One of those outfielders is coming off surgery to repair a torn ligament in his knee (Reyes). Another had elbow surgery and missed the final four months last season (Cordero). A third spent half the year on the DL (Myers). What are the chances all six make it through camp unscathed? Probably pretty small.
For the season's first few months, the Padres use their outfield depth to combat whatever injury they're dealing with at the moment. By the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, a dozen teams are in search of outfield help, and that's when San Diego can finally clear its logjam with a trade or two.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.