The St. Louis Cardinals aren’t going to resign Marcell Ozuna, so how about going after the versatile Wil Myers to replace him in left field?
Wil Myers had his second worse season in the MLB in 2019 at the age of 28. Let me first get that off the board. That doesn’t mean he is a great option for the St. Louis Cardinals to pursue. Let me also say that I have always been a Myers fan, and he is drastically overpaid from now until he is a free agent in 2022.
If you’ll allow me, let me spin this for you.
Skip back to 2013 when Wil Myers broke into the league with the Tampa Bay Rays. Evan Longoria was a top-10 MVP candidate, and Wil Myers was an absolute stud. The #4 prospect in all of baseball before the 2013 season, Myers came into the league and batted .293 with an .831 OPS and won the Rookie of the Year voting with about a half-seasons worth of at-bats.
Then, in a flash, Myers had a sophomore slump for the ages and had a .614 OPS in 2014. His OPS+ fell from 131 in 2013 to 77 just one season later. After falling into that chasm, the Rays traded Myers to the Padres where he has played ever since.
With the Padres, Myers has been fairly consistent. Before 2019, his highest OPS+ in the four years was 115 and his lowest was 109. He grew into his power and hit 28 and 30 homers in 2016 and 2017, made an All-Star team… Then cashed in with a six-year, $83M deal in 2017. The problem with this deal is that it is horribly backloaded. By this, I mean that through the first two years of the deal, Myers has made just $10M. You do the math.
As I said before, 2019 didn’t go very well for Myers. He batted just .239 and had a .739 OPS. He still had a 95 OPS+, so he wasn’t that far below average, but it was not good and broke the consistency he had shown while he moved into his prime.
The problem with Myers in 2019 was that he just didn’t hit the ball hard. Myers’ batted ball profile is relatively consistent with his career in terms of line drive percentage and spray chart, except his strikeout rate skyrocketed to 34.2% and his average exit velocity fell. The odd thing is that that exit velocity fell back to the levels where it was the previous three out of four years.
So while Myers’ exit velocity fell from 90.3 mph in 2018 to 88.9 mph in 2019, that’s still right at his career average of 89.0 mph. Major league average exit velocity is 87.5 mph so he’s got that on his side. It’s odd, but at this point, 2019 seems like an outlier like his 2014 season.
Prior to 2019, Myers has never struck out more than 27% of the time, so 34% in 2019 has to be an outlier.
Myers is really average with the glove, which is just okay. He plays first base, third base, and left field (he’s played center but was awful out there). Do you know where the Cardinals have question marks? Third base and left field.
With Myers’ salary about to jump from $5.5M to $22.5M, the Padres seem to want to move on from the now 29-year-old.
Myers is the perfect bounce-back bargain the Cardinals have proven to love in the past.
Over the past two years, Myers has had an OPS+ of 110 and 95. Guess what, Marcell Ozuna’s last two years with the Cardinals had an OPS+ of 107 and 106. The team has a hole in left field that they want to fill with a young player. They have said that outright. But, if the right deal is there, there’s no reason to believe the Cardinals would stay away from Myers.
By “the right deal” I mean that either the Cardinals trade a bad contract for Myers in return, or the team makes the Padres chip in some cash with Myers. The Cardinals aren’t paying Matt Carpenter and Dexter Fowler a combined $35M and Myers another $22.5M on top of it.
If you are still unimpressed with Myers, just remember that two of the past four years, he has put forth more offensive value than Ozuna and even though he is coming off of a bad year, it was a clear outlier.
Myers has three years of control left and if the money works out, I’d love to see the former Rookie of the Year in left field to start the year.
Myers’ value is going to be in the tank after 2019 and with the upcoming salary and I wouldn’t expect the price to be huge, especially if the team is publicly trying to shop him. With the Padres’ Tommy Pham trade in flux due to issues with Pham’s physical, the deal should start around Tyler O’Neill or Randy Arozarena if the Padres wanna chip in cash, or either Carpenter or Fowler if not. Mo would have to build from there, but that’s a good starting point.
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Most of you will scoff when you see the year he had in 2019 or see his salary, but again, the Cardinals don’t want to go after anyone big. That isn’t their norm. What they do is go after the mid-low level guy and hope they play up. Wil Myers fits that bill perfectly.