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Big contract in hand, Myers embraces role as face of Padres

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SAN DIEGO (AP) Wil Myers was so pumped up to become the face of the San Diego Padres via an $83 million contract that his first big purchase was a nice suit to wear to a news conference Monday.

This being laid-back San Diego, though, he passed on wearing a tie.

The Padres will count on their dapper All-Star first baseman to help get them through some expected lean years as they begin a deep rebuilding process.

''I'm excited about this process here, the young players we have, rebuilding this organization,'' said Myers, who agreed to the deal last week. ''I'm excited just to have a part in that, to have a hand in helping lead this team into championship seasons and to have playoff baseball come here to San Diego.''

Myers could be deep into his six-year contract before the Padres make it back to the postseason.

The Padres are coming off their sixth straight losing season and haven't been to the playoffs in 10 years. Executive chairman Ron Fowler has said he doesn't expect them to be .500 for two years.

After general manager A.J. Preller saw his win-now approach with veterans fail in 2015, he spent most of last year dealing away older players for prospects and younger talent. Myers is the only player left from Preller's wild shopping spree two offseasons ago.

Myers said he believes in Preller so much that he was willing to sign a long-term deal rather than wait to get to free agency.

''This is really about the Padres more so than anything,'' he said. ''This is about the leadership of the Padres and winning with the Padres organization. It's all about this process here. I'm a firm believer of what we have going on here. I love the players we have here, the talent we have and I really believe it's going to be exciting in the next few years for the Padres in what we're going to be able to accomplish.''

The back three rows of the room were filled with minor leaguers in town for a minicamp, as well as a handful of big leaguers, including rookie right fielder Hunter Renfroe and catcher Austin Hedges.

''The guys we have, the position players we have right now, are really good,'' Myers said. ''People don't know about them. They're not household names yet. But they're very talented. They're going to be very good players here at the big league level. I'm excited to be able to play behind them.''

The 26-year-old Myers was a first-time All-Star in 2016, when he hit 28 homers and drove in 94 runs while stealing 28 bases.

Myers, who had been eligible for salary arbitration, receives a $15 million signing bonus. He gets salaries of $2 million apiece in the next two seasons, $3 million in 2019 and $20 million in each of the final three years. San Diego has a $20 million team option for 2023 with a $1 million buyout. He would get a one-time $1 million assignment bonus if traded.

Myers would have been eligible for free agency after the 2019 season. The deal tops a $75 million, four-year contract pitcher James Shields signed before the 2015 season as the largest in team history.

Myers was the AL Rookie of the Year with Tampa Bay in 2013. After injuries kept him from playing more than 100 games in either of the following two seasons, he played 157 games last year as he successfully converted from the outfield to first base.

''He's just scratching the surface as far as his potential,'' Preller said. ''He's shown a taste of what he can do and we're really looking forward to the next six years of seeing the player we feel like he's going to become as we grow together.''

Myers said nothing changes now that he's the face of the franchise.

''I don't want to look at this and come into spring training and say, `Hey, I'm the leader and whatever I say goes.' With all these young guys, they don't need someone telling them what to do all the time. They need to come in here and make the small adjustments as they go. It's just about them coming up and learning in the big leagues.''

Myers said the big selling point with the Padres is manager Andy Green and his staff.

''There would be nothing more gratifying than to, in two, three, four years, (be) leading this team into the playoffs,'' Myers said. ''That was my biggest reason for staying here.''


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