Preller eyes 'different routes' at Deadline

June 2nd, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- In mid-April, with the Padres off to their best start in a decade, general manager A.J. Preller professed a wait-and-see approach to any in-season transactions.

If the club was still lingering around playoff contention after the Draft, Preller said, that would be the time to reassess.

Well, the Draft begins Monday night. And although the Padres have fallen well behind the Dodgers in the National League West, they're 30-28 entering play Sunday, a game back of the NL’s second Wild Card slot.

"Usually the Draft serves as the start-up point for the Trade Deadline," Preller said Sunday at his pre-Draft media availability. "We get done with the Draft here this week, then a lot of the conversation, for us, is to look internally at our team, figure out different areas within that we need to improve on.

"Then we start looking, at from a strategy standpoint, what direction we need to go over the next six to eight weeks."

Suffice it to say that direction could look very different for Preller, who is approaching his fifth Trade Deadline with the club. The Padres have been sellers at each of the last three Deadlines (and they were almost certainly sellers in 2015 as well, even though no meaningful trades came to fruition).

"The last few years ... it was more looking at players we were going to move to build up the depth and move established players for prospects," Preller said. "This year, honestly, it's a situation we could look at going a lot of different routes. We have some players, and we've built up some talent depth throughout the system, so we'll be in the middle of conversations."

What conversations exactly? Well, San Diego could desperately use some pitching depth. The back-end of its rotation is thin, and it might get thinner with workload restrictions on Matt Strahm and Chris Paddack.

The Padres still probably aren’t a favorite to land Dallas Keuchel or Craig Kimbrel -- who will no longer be tied to Draft pick compensation as of Monday. But if they're still in the Wild Card hunt, it seems likely they look to add external pitching help.

Even then, the Padres want to make sure that any moves they make to acquire pitching are rooted in the team's long-term trajectory. The club still views 2020 as the opening of its contention window. In that regard, it would like to land a pitcher with multiple years of team control.

Said Preller: "The most important thing we've talked about is still looking toward the long-term, looking toward building something that's going to be sustainable for the next five years and nothing that's going to sacrifice that over the next five weeks."