One thing you can say, beyond the shadow of a doubt, about Padres General Manager A.J. Preller is he does not make things boring. Preller has re-shaped the franchise multiple times since taking over in August of 2014 and he’s going to have a chance to see if this latest experiment works in San Diego.
Preller has turned the Padres farm system into one of the best in all of baseball and the hope that it will turn the franchise into a consistent winner in a few years earned him a contract extension through the 2022 season. It’s a move that Preller believes shows the Padres are committed to their youth movement.
“It sends a message of stability throughout the organization,” said Preller. “It does point somewhat to a long-term plan and a long-term vision that is consistent.”
Now the Friar Faithful have to wonder if this is actually going to work, and if it does, how soon can we start thinking about making deposits on playoff tickets?
“This is a process,” said Preller. “We’re not going to go out and rush guys just to try and demonstrate to the fan base or anybody else that we have talent. We’re confident in that.”
But HOW LONG IS THIS GOING TO TAKE??? Perhaps not as long as some fear.
“The biggest thing for us that we saw this last year is there was progress,” said Preller. “We wanted to find out about a Manny Margot, an Austin Hedges, a Dinelson Lamet, a Carlos Asuaje, a Jose Pirela, a Hunter Renfroe. I think those guys are going to part of successful teams in the future. For next year we’ve got to add more to that mix and whether that results in 2018 or 2019 I think we’ll get more of an idea as we see these guys play out on the field. We’ve got some depth, we’ve got some quality, and now it’s a matter of those guys getting up together and playing good baseball and I do think that’s coming here.”
In his first full year Preller generated an obscene amount of buzz by adding a bunch of high-profile talent (Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, James Shields). When that fizzled he set out on a quest to completely re-shape the organization from the ground up, a rebuild the likes of which Padres fans have never seen.
He shipped Kemp packing to Atlanta in a move that basically just washed out some salary, let Upton walk for a compensatory draft pick (which was used on 3B Hudson Potts, who slugged 20 home runs as a 19-year-old in the Midwest League), and traded Shields to the White Sox for a package that included Fernando Tatis Jr., who is now one of the hottest shortstop prospects in the game.
In another nod to stability the Padres will now have their manager and general manager on board for the next several seasons. In August Andy Green was given an extension through 2021. On Monday Green solidified his 2018 big league coaching staff. Returning are bench coach Mark McGwire, pitching coach Darren Balsley, third base coach Glenn Hoffman, bullpen coach Doug Bochtler, and Johnny Washington, who will move from first base coach to assistant hitting coach where he will work with the new full-time hitting coach Matt Stairs. Skip Schumaker joins the club as first base coach and Josh Johnson will work primarily with infielders.
During a Monday afternoon conference call Preller did not address the rumors of the team adding All-Star 1st baseman Eric Hosmer or Japanese superstar Shoehi Ohtani but did say that when the MLB Winter Meetings start on December 10 in Orlando, FL, he would be open to adding more players via either trade or free agency.