Padres general manager A.J. Preller spoke to reporters (including Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune and AJ Cassavell of MLB.com) today, prior to his team’s final game of what ended up as a 66-96 campaign. Here are some of the most pertinent items of Preller’s chat, in regards to what his front office has ahead for the coming offseason…
- The Padres have yet to post a winning record in Preller’s four full years as GM, and haven’t had a winning season of any sort since 2010. After another year of rebuilding and focusing on young talent, however, Preller believes the team can take a step forward competition-wise in 2019. “[We’re] starting to climb out of this point where it’s a development mindset, where we’re at the bottom part of the standings….From our standpoint next year we’re going to look to start to compete. You’ve got to get over .500 to do that,” Preller said.
- After last winter’s surprising signing of Eric Hosmer, San Diego could again pursue some of the bigger-name free agents in this year’s market, or (as they did at the trade deadline) look to acquire controllable starting pitching. “I think we start with: Never say no to anything,” Preller said. “It’s not like anything is off-limits. We’re open to every possibility, every situation.” In regards to potential trades, the GM noted that “In the last 12 months, any established players that have been put on the trade market, we’ve been part of those discussions. We’ve had other teams reaching out to us, wanting to tap into some of the resources we have in our system. I think that’ll be no different this offseason. We’ll evaluate the guys we have in our system, versus what we’re able to.”
- While San Diego could dip into its vaunted prospect depth to swing a trade or two this offseason, it would seemingly be surprising if the club dealt any of its top blue-chippers for the sake of immediate improvement. As Preller noted, his goal is to build a long-term contender: “Every decision we make is built toward a plan. What we’re not going to do is short-circuit that. The last few years, we’re building, really, to get away from the mindset of being average.”
- The Padres have approximately $51.4MM in guaranteed salaries committed to the 2019 payroll, with Preller saying “I feel like we’re going to have some financial flexibility because a lot of the players are younger players. We understand we’re at that point from a plan standpoint where we’re going to have to supplement from the outside – be it the free agent or trade route. We’ll look to do that in the next few months.”
- The bulk of next year’s payroll expenditures are due to the salaries of Hosmer and Wil Myers, and Cassavell thinks it possible that the Padres could try to move Myers due to the former first baseman’s position crunch. Franmil Reyes and Hunter Renfroe have earned more playing time in the corner outfield spots in 2019, leaving Myers perhaps at third base (where he struggled defensively, albeit in a small sample size) or maybe in a super-utility role at both corner infield and outfield spots. Of course, Cassavell also believes that Reyes or Renfroe could be traded to address the crowed corner outfield situation, and obviously either of those two younger players would be easier to deal given that Myers is owed at least $64MM through the 2022 season.
- Preller said that the team hadn’t yet decided on Myers’ role for next season, though Myers will be informed early so he can properly prepare heading into Spring Training. For his part, Myers believes that “with an offseason, I will absolutely be able to play third base.”
- Freddy Galvis could also be a factor at third base, as Preller expressed an interest in re-signing the veteran. Galvis hit .248/.299/.380 over 656 PA while appearing in all 162 games, appearing as a shortstop in all but five of those contests. Galvis hasn’t played the hot corner since 2014, but he’d have to shift into a utility role if he returns to San Diego, as the team plans to give more infield time to its top young players next year.