SAN DIEGO -- General manager A.J. Preller has revamped the Padres' farm system over the past two years, turning it into one of the best in baseball. It's a change the club hopes will lead to a sustained run of success in the not-too-distant future.
In short, Preller has put his vision into place in San Diego. Now, he'll get to see that vision through.
The Padres rewarded Preller by extending his contract for three years. The deal, which the club announced on Sunday, will run through the 2022 season.
"A.J. is a tireless worker who possesses one of the brightest minds in the game. We have no doubt that he is the right man to lead our baseball operations group into the future," executive chairman Ron Fowler and managing partner Peter Seidler said in a joint statement. "Over the last few years, A.J. and his staff have laid the foundation to transform our Minor League system into one of the best in baseball, and we're beginning to see the fruits of their labor at the Major League level. We are all committed to a common vision of building from within to bring a World Series championship to San Diego."
"It means a lot, not just for myself, but for our entire baseball-operations group and team," Preller told MLB.com. "There's a lot that goes into it, and it's a sign to our scouts, our coaches, our front-office group that Ron Fowler and Peter Seidler recognize that things are going in the right direction."
It brings a bit more continuity to the Padres, whose roster and staff already have plenty. In August, the Padres similarly extended manager Andy Green by three years through the 2021 season. Of the club's budding youngsters, the majority are under control through 2022 -- including William Myers, Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe and Austin Hedges.
"Hopefully that leads to success," Preller said. "You need to get people and players that have ability, first, and then you've got to get stability. ... We've designed this to hire quality people, get good players and, over the course of time, let them jell together. It's what successful franchises do, and we're in a good spot for the next few years."
Preller's vision goes beyond the Major League level. Having developed a reputation as an ace talent evaluator with Texas, Preller has constructed a deep farm system in San Diego. In MLBPipeline's midseason rankings, the Padres were third -- behind only the Braves and White Sox.
Preller and the Padres have long spoken about the "waves" of prospects they hope will arrive in San Diego over the next half decade. Their stated goal was to acquire as much young talent as possible and develop it with an eye on the future. If all goes according to plan, the infusion of prospects will methodically take shape at the big league level over the next few years.
Preller's tenure began in the summer of 2014, and he has since turned over the organization. He parted ways with longtime manager Bud Black, hiring Green following the 2015 season.
He also oversaw an unprecedented buying spree in the 2014-15 offseason, which saw the Padres add Myers, Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, James Shields and Craig Kimbrel. Collectively, those moves never panned out, and only Myers remains.
Shortly after the Padres underachieved in 2015, Preller began reconstructing the organization from the ground up. In that regard, '16 was a banner year. Through trades, the Draft and international signings, the Padres' system got a complete reboot. Nine of its top 11 prospects were acquired via those three routes in '16.
"A good team has to be strong in the farm system," Preller said. "It's been a big focus, because that's what successful organizations do."
Still, the 2016 season was a tumultuous one for Preller. In September, he was suspended for 30 days for undisclosed medical information in the trade that sent Thomas Pomeranz to Boston. Even through the suspension, however, Padres' brass expressed faith in Preller.
The following year, the early stages of Preller's vision began to take shape. The first "wave" arrived in 2017 in the form of Margot, Hedges and Renfroe. Up next? Infielders Fernando Tatis Jr. and Luis Urias have drawn rave reviews. The Padres' Double-A rotation also featured five of the organization's top 15 prospects.
After that, Preller's unprecedented 2016-17 international-signing spree could begin to take shape. Padres ownership invested north of $80 million in international signings during that period -- which was the last of its kind, given the spending restrictions established in the new collective bargaining agreement.
"We've been realistic in the last couple years," Preller said. "In order to build a franchise, it doesn't happen overnight. You need a period of time to go through Drafts and international [signings] and trades and give your group a chance to have some stability. That's what we've been in the process of building, and now we're taking some steps toward winning baseball at the big league level."
With a sudden glut of young talent, the Padres feel their future is bright. The contract extension means Preller has once again been charged with overseeing it.