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Source: Padres GM interested in Panda, Tomas

Preller meeting with agents in Miami, DR in pursuit of offensive upgrades
MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- A.J. Preller has taken several trips to scout players since being hired as general manager of the Padres in August.

But the trip he's on this week might trump them all in terms of importance to the short-term and long-term success of the franchise.

SAN DIEGO -- A.J. Preller has taken several trips to scout players since being hired as general manager of the Padres in August.

But the trip he's on this week might trump them all in terms of importance to the short-term and long-term success of the franchise.

Preller was in Miami on Friday to meet with Gustavo Vazquez, the agent for free-agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval. He was then expected to fly to the Dominican Republic on Saturday to meet with the agent for Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas, a baseball source told MLB.com.

The Padres, desperate to add production to a moribund offense that ranked last in baseball in several categories, are apparently serious about making notable upgrades.

The Padres could be leaning more toward free-agent additions after conversations internally have now swung back toward keeping arbitration-eligible pitchers Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross instead of dealing one or the other to get offensive help.

Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com reported Friday that the Padres were making a contract offer to Sandoval, who is being courted by a handful of other teams. Rosenthal indicated the offers Sandoval is receiving are in the five-year, $90 million-$95 million range.

Video: The guys on MLB Now evaluate Sandoval's value

The largest contract the Padres have ever awarded a player was the three-year, $52 million extension that pitcher Jake Peavy received in December 2007 shortly after winning the National League Cy Young Award. Nineteen months later, the team traded Peavy to the White Sox.

This would certainly be new ground for the Padres, who last season had the highest Opening Day payroll in franchise history, just north of $90 million.

Sandoval, who was in Boston on Tuesday visiting the Red Sox, figures to have a long line of suitors -- and a hefty price tag. He's a career .285/.355/.487 hitter with six doubles and 10 home runs in 197 at-bats in 53 career games at Petco Park with the Giants.

The Padres have scouted 24-year-old outfielder Tomas on several occasions and have also looked at him at third base, Preller said recently. A report in recent weeks discounted the Padres' chances, but a source said Wednesday the Padres are still considering Tomas.

Video: Cuban free agent Tomas ready to make splash in bigs

Industry sources indicated to MLB.com on Thursday that the Braves and the Padres have emerged as the front-runners for Tomas.

Tomas is believed to be seeking at least a five- to seven-year deal with an annual salary near $15 million, but the Tomas camp has not ruled out the possibility of signing a short-term, high-value deal that would allow him to return to the free-agent market sooner.

Preller told MLB.com recently that the free-agent market wasn't exactly brimming with viable options for the team but he certainly wouldn't rule out exploring it for offensive upgrades.

"I think this year it's a little bit of a limited group in terms of the free-agent market in terms of offense, but I wouldn't rule out Major League free agents," Preller said.

The Padres have also checked in on free-agent first baseman Adam LaRoche and, according to a report, engaged the Reds in trade talks about outfielder Jay Bruce and at least made a call to the Dodgers to check in on the availability of outfielder Matt Kemp, according to FoxSports.com.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

San Diego Padres, Pablo Sandoval