LAS VEGAS -- For the first time in A.J. Preller's five years as general manager, the Padres did not make a Major League transaction at the Winter Meetings.Perhaps we should've expected that. Preller appears poised to slow-play the market. He'd like to add a starting pitcher or two, but he
LAS VEGAS -- For the first time in A.J. Preller's five years as general manager, the Padres did not make a Major League transaction at the Winter Meetings.
Perhaps we should've expected that. Preller appears poised to slow-play the market. He'd like to add a starting pitcher or two, but he doesn't feel as though he needs to. He'd like to trade an outfielder or two, but he doesn't feel as though he needs to do that either.
That's the biggest reason for the club's inactivity this week. The Padres continued their trade discussions, and they met with the representatives for a handful of free agents. But nothing lined up, and they felt no need to force it.
"We understand it's a long offseason," Preller said.
Perhaps the Padres will enter camp with six big league-caliber outfielders and a rotation with serious question marks. They aren't going to deal for the sake of dealing.
• Padres seek long-term value in trade targets
Still, there's probably going to be some further roster shuffling in the coming weeks, and the Padres laid the groundwork in Las Vegas.
"It was probably what we expected, honestly," Preller said. "It was a lot of conversation ... with different clubs. Everybody's sorting through their options, and we're still doing the same."
Biggest remaining needs
1. Third base:Christian Villanueva's departure for Japan turned an area of concern into a glaring hole. Their in-house third-base options are Ty France and Greg Garcia. Both are expected to compete for time as backups this year, but it's a virtual lock that the Padres add a starter to that mix. Daniel Descalso is a free-agent option, and Texas' Jurickson Profar is a possibility via trade.
2. Starting pitching: The Padres have a ton of depth in their system, and they've insisted a trade isn't necessary. That doesn't mean they aren't trying hard to improve on a group that posted the highest ERA in the National League last season. After Joey Lucchesi and Eric Lauer, three rotation spots remain completely up for grabs.
3. Shortstop: The Padres are still in talks with Freddy Galvis, but for now, a reunion seems unlikely. There are a handful of other shortstop options on the open market as well. With top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. waiting in the wings, they're looking to commit to a short-term stopgap who can serve as a utility man when Tatis arrives.
Rule 5 Draft
In 2015 and '16, the Padres were especially active in the Rule 5 Draft, taking seven players overall (four of whom remain in the organization). They haven't made a selection since.
Perhaps that speaks to the upward trajectory of the organization. The Padres had a full 40-man roster and were even concerned some of their fringe prospects -- like third baseman Jason Vosler, outfielder Michael Gettys and right-hander Trevor Megill -- might be taken by another club, but they weren't.
The Rule 5 Draft allows for players who haven't been placed on a 40-man roster to be selected by other clubs. Those other clubs must then keep the players on their active roster for the entire season or return them to their original team.
In the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft, the Padres snagged right-hander Cristofer Melendez from the White Sox, then traded him to the Pirates for cash considerations. They made another noteworthy Minor League transaction as well, re-signing outfielder Alex Dickerson, who will likely earn an invite to big league Spring Training.
GM's bottom line
"A lot of the players that have been made available [via trade], we're in those discussions. When you have talented players. and especially talented young players, that leads to some of the discussions." -- Preller
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.