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Deadline sets up Preller for busy offseason

Depth in system positions Padres for run at big names
MLB.com @AJCassavell

SAN DIEGO -- The weeks leading up to Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline were busy for Padres general manager A.J. Preller. The offseason will be busier.

San Diego was linked with a handful of the biggest names on the market over the past month, most notably right-hander Chris Archer, who landed in Pittsburgh in the final hour before the Deadline.

SAN DIEGO -- The weeks leading up to Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline were busy for Padres general manager A.J. Preller. The offseason will be busier.

San Diego was linked with a handful of the biggest names on the market over the past month, most notably right-hander Chris Archer, who landed in Pittsburgh in the final hour before the Deadline.

That wasn't an anomaly. Speaking after the Deadline, Preller seemed to indicated that he views the Padres as active players for the biggest names available. They own the sport's best farm system, and -- although they're not eager to part with their best young talent -- if the right deal (or deals) arise, Preller won't hesitate to add big league-ready players.

"You saw it here in the past month: When established players are potentially moved, we're going to be part of those discussions," Preller said. "We have players that other teams like. Part of the evaluation process will be: at what time do we want to potentially move guys from our organization to get more established players?"

Video: Callis on Padres' revamped farm, now MLB's best

This offseason in particular presents a series of challenges. A convergence of factors will leave the Padres with more roster decisions to make than usual.

The Padres have a full 40-man roster and three more players on the 60-day disabled list. They have eight prospects on their Top 30 list who must be added to the 40-man roster or be risked in the Rule 5 Draft. (Meanwhile, right-handers Brett Kennedy and Trey Wingenter aren't on that Top 30 list, but they're facing the same Rule 5 obstacles and are likely to debut before the end of the season.)

Only Tyson Ross, A.J. Ellis and Freddy Galvis are pending free agents. If you're doing the math, that leaves 50 pieces that will need to be trimmed by 10. And that's before the Padres make additions at shortstop, in the rotation and in the bullpen.

It's a roster crunch that should leave a handful of the team's current big leaguers on edge. It also leaves the front office with four solutions before the late November deadline.

1. Trade big leaguers
2. Designate/non-tender big leaguers
3. Trade prospects
4. Expose prospects to the Rule 5 Draft

The Padres are going to explore the first possibility to the fullest extent. They're going to use the second option to free themselves of at least a couple of players currently taking up 40-man space. And they're going to avoid the fourth option at all costs.

That leaves the possibility of trading prospects -- one the Padres' fan base isn't particularly thrilled about (perhaps justifiably so, given that the big league club sits 26 games below .500).

Internally, the team's roster crunch isn't viewed in a negative light. Most of the forthcoming decisions should make themselves obvious over the next couple of months. A few of the decisions to part with players on the active roster will be painful but ultimately necessary.

It also remains possible that the Padres use their plethora of prospects to execute a trade for a big league-ready talent. In that case, the roster crunch isn't going to be the underlying cause. But it's a side effect that can't be ignored.

"We like a lot of the depth and quality we've built up in the Minor League system," Preller said. "It's going to be part of making us a winning organization. We'll evaluate again in the offseason, but I think you've started to see in the last six months, that we've at least had a seat at the table."

The next six months might be even more telling.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres