PEORIA, Ariz. -- By now, it's a ritual of Padres camp.
Wil Myers spends his offseason in North Carolina enduring rumors about where he might be traded. Then, he arrives in camp, ready to discuss that speculation, none of which ever comes to fruition.
"I've been in trade rumors for a long time," Myers said. "I've figured out how to deal with it. It is what it is, man. I have no hard feelings toward anybody. ... I'm very happy to be here."
That may be true. But as recently as 10 days ago Myers was legitimately uncertain whether he'd be reporting to Red Sox or Padres camp. According to sources, he was a central cog in the proposed deal that would've sent Mookie Betts to San Diego.
"I thought I was going to Florida," said Myers. "It seemed extremely real at that given moment."
Alas, it's a new year and the same storylines persist. Myers still hasn't lived up to the contract he signed three offseasons ago. He's still searching for some measure of consistency in his offensive game. He's still planning to bounce among a handful of positions -- though he'll take reps primarily in right field.
Those ups and downs have assuredly had an impact on Myers. But he’s also done his best to maintain perspective on the situation.
"We're big leaguers here to play the game," he said. "We're very fortunate and very blessed to be here. So you take the good with the bad, and you come out here and give it whatever you got."
Of course, it's impossible to discuss Myers' presence in San Diego without bringing up the contract extension he signed before the 2017 season. It was a six-year deal worth $83 million, widely regarded as a fair contract at the time.
Since then, Myers has been worth only 4.1 Wins Above Replacement, hitting .244/.323/.444 with 59 home runs. Those aren't terrible numbers, but they certainly don't befit his contract. Plus, the backloaded portion of the deal kicks in this year with Myers slated to make $20 million over each of the next three seasons.
"I understand that especially through the life of my contract, I haven't been great here," Myers said. "It only takes one good year to flip that. I'm here, I'm excited for the season and looking forward to flipping that."
Really, what else can Myers say? His actions on the field will speak louder than his words, and he knows that. Yes, Padres fans want him to play better. Yes, the Padres need him to play better. Guess what? Myers wants to play better, too. He was an All-Star in 2016, and he's spent most of the past three seasons trying to regain that form.
For all the trade speculation, however, the Padres didn't treat Myers like he was headed out the door. New manager Jayce Tingler flew to North Carolina a couple times for Myers' workouts, and the two had lunch together. It goes without saying that Tingler feels Myers is due for a bounce-back season.
"Just encourage him to be himself," Tingler said. "That's really our group message. ... He recognizes that he needs to be more consistent. He recognizes that at times he needs to be held accountable. Like most good players, sometimes the answer is pretty simple. Maybe eliminate some noise, eliminate some thought, stick to one or two things. Whenever he steps in the box, let's keep things simple."
With Myers, however, things are never that simple. The Padres have made it clear they'd like to part with the $61 million remaining on his contract. Thus, Myers will continue to be the subject of trade speculation until further notice.
On Saturday, Myers was particularly honest about the effects of those rumors.
"At times you're kind of [ticked] off," he said. "You're like, 'Golly, come on.' But you've got to put your feelings aside. You've got to say: 'Whatever they're going to do, I have to focus on myself this season.'"
He added: "I don't ignore it. I definitely see it. When you're back home people are like, 'Did you see you might get traded, blah blah blah.' You hear that from a lot of people. But my main focus was getting better -- wherever I ended up being. I'm happy I'm here."
And Myers says it like he means it, even though he wasn’t sure he would be.