Preller approaches Deadline as contender

August 26th, 2020

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres expect to be one of the busiest teams in baseball leading up to next the Trade Deadline on Monday. And why wouldn't they be? They're contenders for the first time in a decade, and there might not be a single team with more moveable Minor League assets.

But general manager A.J. Preller offered a word of caution on Tuesday. Just because the Padres expect to be busy in pursuit of bullpen arms -- and perhaps an outfield bat -- doesn't mean they'll overpay.

"You've got to like the trade," Preller said. "We feel like we have some depth, but that doesn't mean we're going to look at this Deadline and say that we have to do something."

The tone in the organization is still that the Padres would like to do something. Preller has until 1 p.m. PT on Monday to make that a reality.

The San Diego bullpen entered play Tuesday ranked 25th in the Majors with a 5.45 ERA. The Padres have lost closer for the season, and there's still not much clarity on the returns of (shoulder strain) and (lat strain).

As such, the Padres have started testing the trade market in search of relief options, according to sources with knowledge of the team's discussions. But Preller reiterated confidence in his current crop of bullpen arms.

"You look at the guys that are out there, and sometimes things may look better from afar," Preller said. "But we have a lot of belief in the group that's there. We came into the year thinking it was going to be a strength, understanding the nature of bullpens. They're always pretty volatile. Sometimes, you can have issues quickly, but you can also get better pretty quickly with some performance."

Preller downplayed the obstacles to making a trade in 2020, citing the smooth nature of his preseason trade with the Royals for lefty reliever . But he did acknowledge one key difference: Any trade he makes this year is for only about 30 games down the stretch.

As such, it’s more likely that if the Padres add an arm, it would be a piece with some control, according to sources. They almost certainly won’t pay exorbitantly for a pending free agent. But Preller isn’t ruling anything out.

“Playing into a postseason is always the goal,” Preller said. “Whether that’s with 30 games to go or 50 games to go, we value that. We’ll look at each decision individually and say, ‘Hey, is it worth it to make a move?’ Obviously, we have different price points based on what we think that player’s value is to the team and also how much time he has a chance to be part of our organization.”

Here are a few other tidbits from Preller's first media availability since Opening Day:

• Preller was asked about a potential callup for , the top pitching prospect in the overall MLB Pipeline rankings, and the GM emphasized that Gore still needs to earn it. The Padres have been building Gore as a starter at their alternate training site, and Preller added that the strong showing from his starting rotation has been a factor.

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"Just like any prospect, any player, we have our checklist of things from a development standpoint that we want to see," Preller said. "Ultimately, when he's checked all those boxes and there's not any more development time that's needed ... then we'll start looking at him at the Major League level."

• Right-hander spent all of last season working with at least five days’ rest. He struggled a bit earlier this year when that number dropped to four. Then he impressed against Texas last week back on five days’ rest. Preller isn't reading too much into that.

"The idea with him, big-picture-wise for this year, is we want our best guys out there every five days," Preller said. "I don't think that mindset has changed."