The Reds announced today that first baseman/outfielder Wil Myers has been reinstated from the injured list and designated for assignment.
Signed to a one-year, $7.5MM deal over the winter, Myers joined the Reds with the hope that he could rebound at the plate and develop into a serviceable trade chip at this year’s deadline. Things haven’t panned out as hoped, however. Prior to being placed on the injured list due to a bout with kidney stones, Myers appeared in 37 games and hit .189/.257/.283 with a jarring 34% strikeout rate in 141 trips to the plate. He managed to connect on three homers and added in a pair of steals, but Myers was nowhere close to his peak levels of performance.
Myers’ placement on the injured list was one of multiple injuries that paved the way for the Reds to go with a youth movement in the infield — one that has thus far reaped immense dividends. Spencer Steer, Matt McLain and Elly De La Cruz have all impressed this season, and 2021 NL Rookie of the Year Jonathan India has enjoyed a fine rebound season at second base.
With Cincinnati activating stalwart first baseman Joey Votto to join that group just yesterday — Votto homered in his return — Myers’ path back to a spot on the active roster was cloudy, at best. The Reds could’ve tried to find Myers some playing time in the outfield, but each of Will Benson, TJ Friedl, Jake Fraley and Nick Senzel have outperformed the veteran Myers. Given the team’s current nine-game winning streak, it’s understandable that the Reds didn’t want to disrupt the lineup beyond Votto’s return.
The 2023 season has been the worst of Myers’ career. The former top prospect and 2013 AL Rookie of the Year seemed destined for stardom a decade ago, but he’s settled in more as a steadily productive regular with an offensive ceiling that’s well shy of All-Star status. His eight-year tenure with the Padres was a roller coaster in terms of performance, but the end result was a .254/.330/.451 batting line and 134 homers in 3415 plate appearances. Myers was one of MLB’s best hitters in the shortened 2020 campaign, hitting .288/.353/.606 with a whopping 15 dingers in just 218 trips to the plate, but that proved to be an outlier rather than a breakout.
The Reds will now have a week to trade Myers, pass him through outright waivers, or release him. Myers is still owed $3.34MM of this year’s $6MM salary, plus the full $1.5MM buyout on next year’s mutual option. Given that $4.84MM left on his contract, there’s no chance another team would claim him at this point. In the likely event that the Reds can’t find a trade partner — which would surely require them either paying down the bulk, if not the entirety of the contract, or taking another bad contract back in return — Myers will pass through waivers unclaimed.
Myers has enough service time to reject an outright assignment without forfeiting the remainder of his salary, so the likeliest outcome is that he’ll become a free agent. Any new team that signs him would only be responsible for paying Myers the prorated league minimum for any time spent on the MLB roster. That sum would be subtracted from what Cincinnati owes him, but either way the Reds will be on the hook for the vast majority of his contract.