Here’s the latest on the Padres’ present and future…
- In a wide-ranging interview with several members of Padres upper management, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune hears that the club isn’t looking at 2016 as a rebuilding year. “ was part of a journey, part of the plan. 2016 brings a next step with a new manager and a team we think is going to compete,” team president/CEO Mike Dee said. The general refrain is that the Padres’ quieter offseason has been about bolstering the minor league ranks while also adding some Major League pieces “who are going to be a fit and complement the roster,” GM A.J. Preller said. Part of the reason for optimism is, simply, the feeling that the Padres are bound to improve simply because pretty much everything went wrong last season.
- Preller defended the decision to not trade Craig Kimbrel, Ian Kennedy or other pieces at last July’s deadline, noting that what was offered for those players last year wasn’t as valuable as what the Padres eventually got back from the Red Sox for Kimbrel, or the first-round compensation pick received when Kennedy signed with the Royals. “There’s always a time and a place to make deals. It’s not as easy as saying, hey, we should’ve traded everyone at the trade deadline. Whether it’s adding or moving players, you’re trying to get value,” Preller said.
- The Padres are widely expected to be heavy spenders in the 2016-17 international signing period that opens on July 2, and they also own six picks within the top 85 selections of the 2016 amateur draft. This focus on lower-priced youngsters who (ideally) can develop into stars is a key part of San Diego’s strategy. “What we feel strategically is, money spent on amateur draft signings is money well spent,” chief shareholder Peter Seidler tells Lin. “It’s basically going to be almost certainly less than what Ian Kennedy gets for one year…If we get back out of this draft two players that go through our system and become All-Stars, obviously it’s money well spent.”
- ESPN’s Buster Olney took a much less optimistic view of the Padres’ situation in a recent subscription-only column, arguing that the team’s offseason moves have all the look of a club that is embarking on a rebuild. The Padres, in Olney’s view, have little choice but to start over after “last winter’s ill-fated binge” of spending. Between adding expensive salaries and trading prospects, Olney hears from some rival evaluators that the Padres cost themselves hundreds of millions worth of value last offseason. Olney suggests that the Padres should take advantage of the weak 2016-17 free agent class by offering their veterans (and really, anyone on the roster) in trades to amass young talent.
- Right-handed pitching prospect Ryan Butler has been issued a 50-game suspension for violating the minor league drug policy, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. This is Butler’s second positive test for a drug of abuse. The 23-year-old Butler was a seventh-round draft pick for the Padres in 2014 and he cracked the Double-A level for the first time last season. Butler was ranked 13th (by MLB.com) and 14th (by Baseball America) in recent rankings of the top prospects in San Diego’s minor league system, with MLB.com’s scouting report noting that Butler could be on the fast track to the majors if he was made a full-time reliever.