Preller facing Winter Meetings encore
Padres GM seeking left-handed balance for 2016 roster
SAN DIEGO -- A year ago, the early portion of baseball's offseason came and went little in the way of roster activity from the Padres and, at the time, their first-year general manager, A.J. Preller.
That all changed during the Winter Meetings, when Preller and the Padres put in motion the many changes that occurred to the roster over the coming weeks in December -- a revamped roster that set the baseball world on its collective ear.
So what will Preller do for an encore? One thing is for certain, he won't shy away from moves just because his renovation job last winter didn't work out.
"We are going to continue to push it forward and put a winning product on the field," Preller said recently. "Does it mean we're going to make a lot of changes this year? That's something we need to decide going forward."
The Padres' front-office contingent heads Saturday to the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., with an eye again on improving the roster, on the heels of what was a disappointing 74-88 finish last season.
The Winter Meetings, which begin Monday, could see Preller and company make moves to shore up several holes in the roster.
Say this for Preller: He's been far more active earlier this offseason than he was a year ago.
The team has already traded relievers Joaquin Benoit (to the Mariners) and Craig Kimbrel (Red Sox). In return, the Padres reclaimed some prospects for its Minor League system and created some financial flexibility for 2016, approximately $19 million that would have gone to Benoit and Kimbrel.
On Wednesday, Preller acquired left-handed pitcher Drew Pomeranz from the A's, satisfying a need for a left-handed pitcher. It's unclear if Pomeranz, who has started and pitched in relief in his career with the Rockies and A's, is viewed as a starting candidate as of yet.
The Padres certainly have needs -- and not just at the back end of the bullpen now that they traded the two aforementioned relievers.
The Padres would like to find a fit at shortstop and close the revolving door at one of baseball's most premium positions. Since 2009, the team has used 18 different shortstops.
With newly acquired shortstop Javier Guerra -- the organization's No. 3 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com -- probably two years away, the team could shy from spending big at the position -- both in terms of dollars and contract length.
With that in mind, free agent Ian Desmond might not be the best fit. However, another free agent, Alexei Ramirez, might be.
Even with the addition of Pomeranz, the Padres could still seek a lefty for their pitching staff. In terms of first base, with Yonder Alonso traded to the A's in the Pomeranz deal, the team might be inclined to slide Wil Myers there. Myers, the Padres' Opening Day center fielder, stated Tuesday that he prefers first base, but will play where he's asked.
Last season, the Padres had a club-record Opening Day payroll of about $108 million. It's unclear if ownership will go above and beyond that, but the team already has about $64 million tied up next season with six players.
If the Padres don't want to dabble too deeply in free agency, they could surely move some prospects, as Preller did a year ago. Could some of the players the Padres landed from the Red Sox in the Kimbrel deal be on the move again?
If the Padres get asked (a lot) about any player on their roster in Nashville, it will be pitcher Tyson Ross. But it's believed the team wants to build around Ross -- even though he would certainly recoup a nice package of players.
Yes, it promises to be a busy week for the industry.
MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2015 Winter Meetings from the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, with the Network launching 35 hours of live Winter Meetings coverage on Sunday at 5 p.m. PT. Fans can also catch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, as well as the announcement of the Hall of Fame Pre-Integration Era Committee inductees on Monday at 8 a.m. PT and the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday at 7 a.m. PT.