Reds sign Wil Myers to one-year deal

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The Reds have announced the signing of a first baseman/outfielder Wil Myers to a one-year contract with a mutual option for 2024. Myers will be guaranteed $7.5 million on the deal, which comes in the form of a $6 million salary in 2023 along with a $1.5 million buyout on the option. He stands to earn an additional $1.5 million in incentives based on playing time and will receive an extra $500K if traded, potentially earning $9.5 million at the end of the season.

Myers, 32, was originally drafted by the Royals but was traded to the Rays before making the majors. He was considered one of the top prospects in the league at the time, with Baseball America ranking him fourth overall for the 2013 season. Myers would make his MLB debut with Tampa that year, posting a slugging line of . . This production was 29% above average, as measured by wRC+. He was worth 2.3 wins over replacement in FanGraphs eyes and won the American League Rookie of the Year award.

Despite his prospect status and exciting debut, Myers has since established himself more as a decent regular than a true star. He suffered a sophomore slump in 2014, shooting just . 222/. 294/. 320 for a wRC+ of 76. After that season, Myers was traded to the Padres and bounced back. Injuries limited him to just 60 games in 2015, but his 2016 was an outstanding one. He hit 28 home runs and stole 28 bases, finishing the year with a slugging line of . 259/. of six years. , an extension of US$ 83 million.

Unfortunately for the Padres, that 2016 campaign now stands as Myers’ best. He’s still a valuable player, but he hasn’t surpassed 2.0 fWAR in any subsequent season. Despite still being a decent contributor, his contract turned out to be seen as an albatross due to his late nature. Myers received a $15 million signing bonus, but then modest salaries of $2 million in 2017 and 2018, followed by $3 million in 2019, but then jumping to $20 million for each of the final three years of the deal. The club reportedly made many attempts to trade Myers in the latter half of the deal, but never succeeded.

Over the six years of that contract, Myers hit 98 home runs and stole 61 bases. He batted in 29.2% of his plate appearances, but also walked at a healthy 9.8% rate. In the end, he produced a combined batting lineup of 0.252/0.327/0.451 for a wRC+ of 109, indicating he was 9% better than the league’s average hitter for that period. He should be able to provide the Reds with a solid veteran bat that can also play in their hitter-friendly stadium.

Defensively, Myers played exclusively at first base in 2017, but has spent most of his time in the outfield in the five seasons since. Advanced metrics are broken down into his work, although he is generally rated average as a corner outfielder and slightly below average at first base. Myers’ flexibility in that regard is likely appealing to a Reds team that has uncertainty in those areas. Joey Votto has been the club’s first baseman for over a decade, but is now 39, turning 40 in September. He also underwent season-ending rotator cuff surgery in August, which comes with an estimated recovery time of six months. That should allow him to return before opening day, but Myers offers them a savvy back-up plan if there’s any sort of setback or if the club want to cut Votto’s playing time.

In the external field, they have several internal options, but none really consolidated. Nick Senzel🇧🇷 Nick Solak🇧🇷 Jake Fraley and TJ Friedl are some of the candidates who may run for external positions in 2023, but none of them has proven enough to have something guaranteed. Myers can step in wherever he fits best based on how others are doing and can also take some time as the designated hitter if those others are doing well. Mike Moustakas is also in line for some DH duty, but he is coming off two consecutive disappointing and injury-plagued campaigns. If Myers is performing well or the Reds simply want to make room for their younger players, Myers could become a commercial candidate as the deadline approaches.

Financially, the rebuilding Reds haven’t spent a lot of money this winter. This is only the second major league signing of the offseason, along with a modest deal for backup catcher. Lucas Maile🇧🇷 Roster Resource calculates this subscription as increasing your payroll to $78MM. That’s still well below its 2022 opening-day figure of $114 million, according to Cot’s baseball contracts. If they’re willing to spend up to similar levels, they may still have more cash for further changes, though they could also remain on the low side after aggressively negotiating significant salaries in recent years.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan first reported the $7.5 million guarantee and Myers’ ability to reach $9.5 million. Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer first had the details of the $500,000 bonus for one trade plus $1.5 million in incentives. Mark Sheldon of first split $6 million 2023 earnings with the $1.5 million purchase on the option.

Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.