For decades, the Padres have done things on a shoestring budget. Instead of being in the hunt for a guy like Albert Pujols, they would go all in on Alberto Gonzalez.
Now, all of a sudden, that seems to be changing.
Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings got going in earnest in Downtown San Diego on Monday. It would appear Padres General Manager A.J. Preller has his fingers in an awful lot of pies. After offering monster contracts to, but losing out on, Pablo Sandoval and Yasmany Tomas, Preller has been talking to teams about acquiring some big-name players and their big-dollar deals.
Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp and Reds outfielder Jay Bruce are on the radar. They both have 10-figure annual salaries. Finally, the Friars are (at least on the surface) serious about contending in the current MLB economy.
"We don't really want to tie ourselves down and say we just have to focus on this one category of player," Preller told me on Monday at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. "I think you get the best ideas when you have the most information and a chance to look at everybody, then filter that down to maybe the two, three, four players that night work for us."
The problem has been, those players are out of the Padres' price range. This year, though (again, on the surface), San Diego is not shying away from parting with piles of cash.
"We hired A.J. with the intent to unleash him and unleash the team that he's put together underneath him," Padres President & C.E.O. Mike Dee told me. "He's going to work hard, and he has our full support."
For once, it appears that support is going to be of the financial variety. You can hear more of what Dee had to say about Preller by checking out my Facebook page here.