After a search that lasted six weeks, A.J. Preller was announced as the Padres' new General Manager on Wednesday.
"A.J.'s passion stood out to all of us throughout the process," Padres CEO Mike Dee said in announcing Preller's hiring on Wednesday. "All along, the most important characteristic was who was going to bring the best overall talent to the organization."
He joins a Padres team that has not made the postseason since 2006 and has just one winning season since 2007.
"My mantra is building a championship team from top to bottom," Preller said. "They made it pretty apparent they want to do what it takes for that."
The deal is reportedly for five years, and executive chairman Ron Fowler said negotiations went late into last night.
"Has the deal been finalized?" he jokingly asked.
Preller, 37, has spent the last 10 seasons with the Texas Rangers. He was promoted to Assistant General Manger last November. He also worked in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization and spent time working under Hall of Famer Frank Robinson at the Major League Baseball league office.
Preller was in charge of the Rangers' scouting and player development. He played a major role in the team's Dominican Republic development program and has a wealth of experience in International scouting, an area the Padres have been trying to strengthen for years.
The Rangers current active roster features 10 international players from six different countries.
Preller stressed that no decisions had been made about manager Bud Black or any other player personnel.
"I can promise you, we'll have the hungriest group, the hardest working group of employees in the game," he said.
The Padres interviewed eight candidates for the job, inviting four of them (Preller, San Diego native Mike Eppler, Kim Ng and Mike Hazen) back for a second talk.
After the firing of Josh Byrnes on June 22, the Padres allowed then-Assistant General Manager A.J. Hinch to guide them through the trade deadline.
In a hint of what was to come, Hinch resigned his post on Tuesday, saying the Padres are ready for a transition. Vice President/Assistant General Manager of Player Personnel Chad MacDonald also announced he was leaving the team on Wednesday.
Hinch's departure and the arrival of Preller and his staff means Fowler, Dee and the new ownership group will have their own, hand-picked people in the front office to fulfill their vision of how the San Diego Padres should be run.
Oh, and there's this fun little write up we found about Preller's time at Walt Whitman High School in Huntington Station, NY:
Voted Mr. Whitman 1995, Principal’s List, National Honor Society, Italian Honor Society, Scholar Athlete award, and a Gold Key award. He was also a class officer for all four years of high school, was captain of the baseball team, and played on the basketball and soccer teams.
If Preller accomplishes anywhere near that much in his new role, the Padres should be in good shape for a long time.