LAS VEGAS -- Who, exactly, is untouchable from the Padres' loaded, top-ranked farm system? It's a system headlined by Fernando Tatis Jr., a budding star at shortstop, and featuring 10 players in MLB Pipeline's Top 100. You better believe rival general managers are calling to ask about A.J. Preller's prospects.
Technically, Preller says, no one's untouchable.
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"If someone wants to give us two Tatises for one Tatis, you're gonna talk about it," Preller quipped Tuesday morning on MLB Network.
Still, Tatis is clearly not part of any Padres trade plans. One person with influence on the team's decision-making even mused, "If they came and offered Michael Trout, we'd have to think about it."
That might be an exaggeration. But as prospects go, Tatis is as close to untouchable as it gets. So what about the rest?
If the Padres are going to acquire proven Major League talent, they're going to have to part with some of their prospects to do so.
San Diego has already been linked to a handful of the trade market's biggest names -- names like Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard and Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. Reports have surfaced that Preller has been one of the most active general managers at this week's Winter Meetings.
"Other teams like our guys," one source said. "... So of course we'll listen."
Said Preller: "A lot of the players that have been made available -- we're in the discussions. When you have talented players and especially talented young players, that leads to some of the discussions."
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As Preller indicated, there are no truly untouchable pieces. But it sounds as though some other players in the system are approaching Tatis' status. For any trade to occur involving the top handful of prospects, it would take an awful lot in return -- and probably players with years of team control remaining.
Even then, the Padres are hesitant to deal from the top end of their pitching prospects, given their thin rotation moving forward. MacKenzie Gore, Chris Paddack, Luis Patino and possibly Adrian Morejon are unlikely to move unless Preller is blown away by a trade offer.
The Padres' system is believed to be as deep as it is star-heavy, and ultimately that's why they've been so busy this week. Right now, it seems likelier that Preller deals from his depth in a smaller trade -- perhaps for a starter or for a third baseman.
As for a potential blockbuster, other teams may like Preller's "guys." But so does Preller, and he likes them a lot.
Galvis still an option
Preller acknowledged that the Padres have spoken with Freddy Galvis' representatives about the possibility of a reunion with the 28-year-old shortstop. Galvis batted .248/.299/.380 last season, and he started all 162 games.
If Galvis were to return, there's a clear role for him in San Diego, though it's different than the one he filled last season. Ultimately, he'd have to cede playing time to middle-infield prospects Luis Urias and Tatis. But the Padres currently don't have a likely starting shortstop or third baseman on their Opening Day roster. Galvis, a respected clubhouse presence, could play both positions in the long term, making him a useful infield piece.
"We liked a lot of things that he brought to us this past year ... from a really solid presence defensively, a guy that's a winning person, winning player, a lot of consistency," Preller said. "We told him there's a lot of different scenarios that we could see. He fits in some of those scenarios. He understands, too, some of the younger players we have coming and how potentially that might change his role. ... He's one of the possibilities for us. But honestly, there's a lot of different ways we think we can go."
Strength in numbers?
Most people within baseball -- both inside the Padres' organization and outside of it -- believe the Friars will trade at least one outfielder this offseason. Yet Preller continues to insist that he might hold onto all six of his big league-caliber outfield pieces.
"We like the group we have," Preller said. "We have depth, we have versatility, we have some guys with options. That gives us flexibility. We have some left-handed bats, defenders, some power. We saw last year: You think you maybe have an excess or an overabundance at one spot, and then a couple of injuries later [and] you're searching for guys. We don't take that lightly."
That outfield group currently features William Myers, Hunter Renfroe, Franmil Reyes and Franchy Cordero as options at the corners, with Manuel Margot, Travis Jankowski and Cordero as options in center.
Not only might Preller retain all six, but he doubled down, noting that he could keep all six even if Myers were to move back to left field full-time. (Myers spent the last couple months of the season at third base, where he struggled immensely.)
"You're creating competition, which is something we've pushed here in general the last few years," Preller said. "In that scenario, most likely, a really good Major League-caliber player is not going to break with our club. Hopefully that brings out the best in all of those guys. We're not looking at it from a numbers standpoint that Wil has to play third base. ... We're just looking to get better."
With six outfielders, one possibility would see Cordero moving to center field for more regular at-bats. Margot struggled last season, and the Padres are desperate for offense. But Preller seemed to downplay that notion.
"It would take a pretty good effort from one of the other outfielders to supplant Manny as the main guy in center field," he said.
Of course, most of these questions could be solved with one measly outfield trade, and the Padres would still seemingly have plenty of depth. That doesn't mean a trade is imminent.
"Other teams see our outfielders as Major League-caliber players," Preller said. "We're definitely going to have discussions there. But I definitely wouldn't be surprised if we go into the year with the group as it stands in the outfield."