Preller talks trades, more at GM Meetings

November 14th, 2019

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The General Managers Meetings in Scottsdale this week marked the unofficial start of hot stove season. From the sound of it, the Padres’ stove is hotter than usual.

"It's always busy," said Padres GM A.J. Preller. "But they feel a little busier right now."

As Preller indicated, the Padres are expected to be one of the winter's biggest players on the trade and free-agent markets. Plus, the Padres are still looking to fill out their coaching staff.

Here's a look at four Padres talking points from the GM meetings.

1. Trades are coming -- and maybe soon

Over the past two years, Preller has clung tightly to his prospects. But it seems inevitable that he will move some of his highly touted youngsters this winter. Even Preller himself was ready to admit that.

"You get tied to these players," Preller said. "And you should. You envision each of these guys playing with the Padres, and you have history with them. But you've got to understand at the end of the day, it's about building a championship-level team at the big league level. If you do it the right way, you have multiples at different spots. Not everybody is going to be able to play for the Padres."

San Diego has holes to fill in the starting rotation and the outfield. Preller might also be looking for upgrades at catcher and second base.

A few of those needs will be addressed in free agency. But not all of them. That almost certainly means a highly regarded prospect or two is headed elsewhere.

"You're constantly weighing the value of signing a free agent that may be a little more accomplished but also takes away some financial flexibility versus the value of keeping [or trading] players,” Preller said.

2. Urías is the Padres' second baseman ... for now

It's anyone's guess what the Padres do at second base this winter. is coming off a disappointing season, yet his strong finish (when he finally received regular playing time) leaves room for optimism.

"Luis is a guy we think highly of, and in a lot of scenarios he's playing middle infield, playing second base for us next year," Preller said.

Hmmm. "A lot of scenarios." But not every scenario?

It sounds like the Padres are open to changes -- whether that's a major shakeup or just a minor acquisition to bring some competition for Urías, who has batted .221 with a .649 OPS across 83 big league games in 2018-19.

That said, there's no sense of desperation for a shakeup. There's merely a responsibility for the Padres to do their due diligence on the second-base market.

"We expect Luis to continue to build off the last few weeks that he had, the last month that he had," Preller said. "He defends the field, he controls the strike zone. Those are things we've been looking for. We expect him to play a big role for us in the middle of the infield for the next few years."

3. Qualifying offers might help the Padres

On Thursday at 2 p.m. PT, the 10 players who received qualifying offers must decide whether they will accept a one-year, $17.8 million deal or hit free agency.

That group includes the market's biggest names like and . But it also includes a lower tier of free agents like , and -- all players who fit positions of need for the Padres.

The qualifying offer won't play too big a factor in deciding where the mega-bucks free agents land. But remember last season when and didn't sign until after the Draft? That's because any team that signs a qualified player must forfeit a Draft pick.

"We'll look at it," Preller said. "The fact that there are guys that have been qualified, that's not preventing our conversations."

For most teams, the cost is a second-round pick (and in some cases a fifth-rounder on top of that). In the Padres' case, it's a third-rounder (No. 73 overall), because they were a recipient of revenue sharing.

"That doesn't mean that you're flippant about punting picks or losing picks," Preller said. "You weigh it out with the individual value of the player that's out there and what he'll mean to our Major League club. We'll take a look at it. The fact that it's a third rounder is better than a second rounder.”

4. Cordero is 'found money'

The Padres would like to get a few weeks of at-bats in the Dominican Winter League. But he's "still trying to get out of the starting blocks," Preller said.

On Tuesday, Cordero tweaked a glute muscle while rehabbing at the team's complex in Peoria, Ariz., according to Preller. It's not a serious injury. But it's another minor setback in Cordero's attempted return from a pair of injuries that have sidelined him since April.

Cordero is precisely what the Padres are looking for this winter -- a left-handed outfield bat who can play center. But Preller will scour the market nonetheless. Given Cordero's injury history, that's probably the smart way to go about things.

"Honestly, it's almost like found money," Preller said of Cordero. "You kind of forget you've got a guy -- I think we've all seen it -- that's one of the more talented and physically gifted players in the league in terms of a speed/power combo. It's all about getting him back on the field."