Padres' Venable agrees to two-year extension
SAN DIEGO -- Padres general manager Josh Byrnes can't tell you why some players find success sooner than later in their career or why some, like Padres outfielder Will Venable, find success after turning 30.
"I think Will is a young 30," Byrnes said Tuesday. "He has added to his offensive bag in each of the last two years."
On Tuesday, the Padres agreed to a two-year contract extension with Venable worth $8.5 million. The contract will cover his last two arbitration years (2014-15).
"I'm happy to know I'll be here the next couple of years," Venable said. "I'm thankful I was drafted by the Padres."
Venable, 30, entered Tuesday hitting .273 with 20 home runs and 49 RBIs in 129 games this season. He hit .309 in July and then hit .367 with 40 hits -- eight of them home runs -- in 26 games in August.
"Will has been very valuable on our roster," Byrnes said. "... Not only has he done what we've asked him to do, but he's done even more."
Venable, who is making $2.675 million this season, will make $4.25 million in 2014 and in '15.
Venable has a 2.7 WAR (wins above replacement) this season, according to FanGraphs.
Byrnes said he had a cursory discussion about a deal with Venable's agent in Spring Training. The two then revisited talks about a month ago.
Venable, a left-handed hitter, has improved his average against left-handed pitchers this season (from .231 to .270) and his 20 home runs are also a career high. He's one hit away from tying his career high in hits (110) from a year ago.
"Even though [statistically] I haven't consistently been where I want to be, I feel each year I have taken steps toward being the player I want to be, with this year being the biggest step," Venable said.
Venable is a career .257 hitter over parts of six Major League seasons, all with the Padres. He was selected in the seventh round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft out of Princeton, where he played four years of Division I basketball as well.
The son of former Major League outfielder Max Venable, Will Venable focused more on basketball early in his life and didn't take baseball seriously until he got to Princeton.
He's glad he decided to chase the small white ball instead of the big orange one.
"Later in this life, this [baseball] became a dream, and since I decided to go this route, this has been my focus," Venable said. "I'm very thankful it all came together."
San Diego lead investor Peter Seidler praised Venable for his work in the community. Venable has long been involved with the Monarch School, a school for homeless children. A chance visit to the school in 2010 has turned into a regular stop for him.
"I have a platform as a baseball player, as someone who graduated from college, which seems to go further at the Monarch School than the baseball thing," Venable said.
"For me to be a positive role model and have them respond by showing up and showing an interest in their work ... that's something anyone would enjoy."