AJ Preller says Padres just need a few adjustments in the offseason

The point is, there has rarely been a high level of realistic expectations around the Padres.

This has changed recently.

A series of moves sparked massive anticipation ahead of last season. Disappointment followed, accompanied by an increase in ticket prices for 2022.

So what is unfolding now is without a doubt one of the most important winters in Padres history.

“I still feel that,” Padres president of baseball operations AJ Preller said on Wednesday as part of his annual “every offseason is important” message at MLB GM meetings at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa.

In a sense, Preller is on his third redesign on the list. But this is more precisely part of the second and is probably only a retooling. Truly.

Not really.

“It’s not just about flipping the list or anything like that,” Preller said. “We feel like we have a team that is, you know, we’ve got the core here of a team that can win a World Series and it’s probably going to be like adding the right piece or two to that talented core.”

The Padres have nearly $ 185 million committed in their 22 payrolls in current and planned contracts. That’s way beyond their previous spending levels and places them in the top five for MLB teams. But several sources with knowledge of the Padres’ finances, including an influx of money available at the property level that occurred over the past year as well as higher than expected participation and box office revenues, said the The team is able to spend more this offseason.

“What we’ve been talking about honestly is kind of loose guidelines,” Preller said of his discussions with team president Peter Seidler regarding payroll. “… With Peter, he’s always, ‘Let’s talk about it, here are the different paths we can take.’ “

Whatever we say and whatever the list, whatever the apparent needs or not on this list and whatever the projected payroll, everyone should have this clear by now:

We have no idea what Preller is doing.

That he hired Bob Melvin, the manager of another team and a beloved man in the industry and considered one of the best at his job, without word being released until the end. was just the last example.

For the prospect, Preller has so far proven to be more adept at keeping plans than creating a list.

The Padres have made more trades (18) than any team since November 2019. They have awarded the biggest contract in franchise history three times in the past four years. Their active roster at the end of the year had just nine players who had been with the team for more than three seasons.

These things don’t happen when a CEO is standing. Even if this GM continually insists, he probably will.

For example, Preller said around the same time last year that the Padres would be okay with moving forward with their existing starting rotation. Then he came out and traded for Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and Joe Musgrove.

Nothing is beyond the reach of the possible.

Would anyone be surprised if he traded Musgrove and Trent Grisham to retool the farming system and signed Max Scherzer and Corey Seager? No matter how unlikely (or even absurd) something is, it cannot be ruled out that Preller is pulling levers. Surprise is when there is no surprise.

Chris Antonetti, president of baseball operations for Cleveland, said on Tuesday that dealing with Preller “is a lot of fun. He never runs out of ideas. … He has hundreds of concepts.

This time, Preller insists it’s different.

“I really feel like it is,” Preller said of the Padres who only needed a few adjustments to move up to the championship caliber.

With caveats.

“If all of a sudden Luis Castillo is available for something mediocre or Sonny Gray is available or if we are looking and someone wants to sign a one year contract to come here and be on staff now,” said declared Preller. “But coming in (in winter), I feel like we legitimately love our group. We love our team. I feel like we have a good team. But if something does come up, we have to look at it, especially on the pitching front. “

It’s no coincidence that Castillo and Gray are potential business targets, as the Cincinnati Reds have admitted they are selling coins. Preller has been interested in the two starting pitchers on several occasions in recent years.

While the Padres could enter 2022 without a noticeable addition to their rotation, they are likely inclined to support a crew that has questions due to injury history and limitations.

This is considered a strong free agent class, but a number of well-heeled buyers are swarming the mall.

“This market is very aggressive,” said Agent Scott Boras.

The Padres’ top priority is a starting corner fielder, and they’re looking to add some relief pitchers on top of their rotation. While Preller has said the “best version” of the Padres includes Eric Hosmer at first base, the team will also continue to explore ways to lose some pay via a trade from Hosmer or right fielder Wil Myers.

“The most important thing is to be prepared and to try to see what works,” said Preller. “We had some offseason where we didn’t line up with things. … We will never be reckless. You know, I think at the end of the day, from top to bottom – Peter Seidler, myself, Bob Melvin – we want to win a championship and we understand what it’s going to take. But honestly, it’s just about trying to be smart and doing things that fit our team and our group. I don’t think this offseason will be any different. I think we’re going to try to align ourselves with some things that work for us. “

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