The Cincinnati Reds have signed free agent Wil Myers to a deal for the 2023 season with a mutual option for the 2024 season. Mark Sheldon reported that the deal is for $6M for 2023 and there’s a $1.5M buyout on the 2024 option. That guarantees at least $7.5M for Myers in the deal. Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that the deal could be worth up to $9.5M based on playing time bonuses and a trade bonus if the team moves him before the deal is up.
Wil Myers just turned 32 a week-and-a-half ago. He’s spent much of his time in the big leagues in the outfield, though he’s played plenty of first base over the years, too. In 2013 and 2014 he played with Tampa Bay (and won the Rookie of the Year) before he was traded to San Diego. He’s spent the last eight season with the Padres.
In 2022 he had his worst offensive season he’s had since 2019, but he was still an above-average hitter. In 77 games played he hit .261/.315/.398. While on the surface a .713 OPS doesn’t sound like it would be all that good, thanks to how Petco plays pitcher friendly, that’s good for a 108 OPS+. That’s in line with his career 111 OPS+.
When looking back at the 2022 season there are some reasons for concern. Last year saw Myers post his lowest walk rate he’s ever had – just 7.3%. And his strikeout rate came in at 30.1%, which is the second highest it’s ever been (only 2019 was higher). His isolated power (SLG-AVG) was .138 and was the second lowest of his career (2014), and well off from where he’s been since the start of the 2015 season.
On the flip side of that, Myers was much better after he returned from the injured list that cost him much of the summer. He hit the injured list in May and was hitting just .234/.276/.307 at the time. When he returned in August he played 45 games through the end of the year and hit .285/.349/.482.
Historically he hasn’t had huge platoon splits, but in 2022 he did. He posted a .659 OPS against right-handed pitching, while he posted an .815 OPS against lefties. The sample size was smaller in 2022 due to the injuries, so take that for what it is – some useful data, but not enough to think that it’s something to put too much emphasis on.
For the Cincinnati Reds the fact that Myers can play some first base could be insurance against Joey Votto being ready to begin the year after his shoulder surgery. If Votto’s ready, then Myers can slide into the corner outfield and or designated hitter role at times. While he’s not exactly a good defender in the outfield, he’s capable of playing out there and that does give the Reds some options.
For Myers moving from a pitcher friendly ballpark in a (mostly) pitcher friendly National League West to a hitter friendly ballpark in a (mostly) hitter friendly division could be very beneficial. If he can put up some good offensive numbers it could help build plenty of value for 2024 where he could decline his option and become a free agent to try and cash in on a better contract.
This deal pushes Cincinnati’s payroll for 2023 to around the $80M mark (salaries for players who are eligible for arbitration make this an educated guess). The addition of Myers to the roster also puts the Reds 40-man at 40 players.
Wil Myers on signing with Cincinnati
“I think it goes without saying that Cincinnati is a great place to hit,” said Myers on Thursday afternoon. “Not only that, I like the city a lot. I’ve enjoyed my time there. Obviously, yes, the ballpark itself is a nice draw. It’s a place I was really looking at starting in free agency.”
Wil Myers on how to help a young team
“Offering the experience I had (in San Diego as they went through a youth movement),” said Myers. “It was cool to see the start of rebuilding and get to the finish – I know we didn’t reach our ultimate goal of the World Series, but I felt like we had a great run last year. Just kind of offering the experience, connecting with some young players and give them some advice and find ways to improve their game. I think that’s very important. I think those things go a long way for the future of organizations to get to the playoffs and a World Series.”