The 30-day suspension of young San Diego Padres G.M. A.J. Preller is officially over.
Welcome back good sir. In your hands we trust the future of this abused franchise.
Preller was given a leave of absence by Major League Baseball for his involvement in the Drew Pomeranz trade to the Boston Red Sox in July. Apparently the Padres staff withheld some medical information and Preller was made responsible. Pomeranz was taking anti-inflammatory medicine for his left elbow and no official reports were made available to the Red Sox. Shame. Shame.
There were also complaints from the White Sox and Marlins in trades this year with the Padres, so that led to his suspension from the league. Something had to be done to save face for this franchise, so hopefully his 30 days away from the team was punishment enough. Some speculate that future teams will be hesitant to deal with the Padres, but that is just speculation. Nobody really knows.
This team is currently reaping the benefits of being run by A.J. Preller, and losing him could be devastating. The young farm system might be one of the most exciting in all of baseball. Most understand the direction this team is going. They also understand that it will take time, but the wait will be well worth it.
I was lucky enough to witness the San Diego Padres Futures Games that took place this month at Petco Park. In the exhibition versus the Rangers, we witnessed an all-star team of talented young players, and each and every one of them is at the A-Ball level or lower. Truly amazing seeing prospects out there that were 16 and 17 years of age. This is something this organization has never embraced. Sure they occasionally delved into the international market, but never to this degree. Seeing all these young men at Petco Park was a great experience for the fans and an awesome way to showcase how phenomenal these young men look.
The Padres spent upwards of $75-80 million dollars this signing period (which opened July 2) on international talent. They easily blew past their allowed amount of money and are going to be penalized during the next signing period. When the next period starts (July 2017) the team will not be allowed to spend over $300,000 on a single player in the pool. They will still be able to secure young players, but the talent level will be far less than what they inked this period. Not a big deal, as there have been recent whispers that major league baseball will go to an International MLB Draft as early as the 2018 signing period. With that, the day and age of teams monopolizing talent on the market will be over. A.J. Preller picked the best time to break the bank. The Padres could stand as one of the last teams to hugely benefit on the market in one single signing period.
Say what you want about Preller, the man has a plan for everything. The future of the team is laid out before us and you have to be blinded by rage in order not to see it. But some are still not happy with the team, and understandably they are squeamish to put faith into another Padres’ regime. Especially when talented major league players like Matt Kemp, James Shields, Fernando Rodney, Andrew Cashner, and Melvin Upton Jr. were dealt away for young unproven players. I get that. However, the plan is for long-term success. These before mentioned players were added to the team when management believed the team was close to competing. The disastrous 2015 season showed that the team was not even close to being a playoff team, and a change of gears was in order. I applaud the team for not trying to keep competing with the overpaid talent that made up the roster. Those players were clearly not motivated to win on an everyday basis and have no business being around young players that are learning how to play the game the correct way.
The best way to truly construct a winning team is to do it with homegrown talent and sprinkling in veteran players…. not the other way around. It’s a tough lesson learned, but the 2015 invigoration of the fan base was necessary. Most of the fans had completely checked out from the team. There is a huge group that still has, but they are slowly awakening to what is taking place in the farm system and coming back to the team. This September, when Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot were in the game and up to bat, you as a fan stopped to watch. You were enthralled by their abilities and their possibility of stardom. With merit, either player could blossom to a superstar in the game of baseball. That is an exciting thing. That is a feeling most Padres fans have never felt. I had the pleasure of feeling this in the mid to late 80’s when the team had young players like Roberto Alomar, Sandy Alomar Jr., Benito Santiago, and Andy Benes on the club. That was an exciting time. Relevant homegrown Padres players are a thing of beauty. We are approaching that time again, and it will come in more than one wave of talent. That is the most exciting part of all.
Renfroe, Travis Jankowski, Margot, Austin Hedges, Carlos Asuaje, and Wil Myers are here now. All are under 25 and represent the team now. Not far behind them are Anderson Espinoza, Michael Gettys, Nick Torres, Luis Urias, Dinelson Lamet, Cal Quantrill, and Josh Naylor. These young men are really close to making the jump to the next level and could be seen as early as September of 2017. Then there are names like Jorge Ona, Javier Guerra, Eric Lauer, Jacob Nix, Logan Allen, Austin Allen, and Buddy Reed who are also blossoming and can easily ascend in the system. Expect them around 2018-2019. But that’s not all. Young teenage talent like Fernando Tatis Jr., Adrian Morejon, Luis Almanzar, Gabriel Arias, Ruddy Giron, Mason Thompson, Reggie Lawson, and Jeisson Rosario are the last wave that is scheduled to hit from 2019-2022. That is what the team is currently set up for, and I am missing tons of players from these explanatory lists. Also factor in the future draft picks, including the #3 overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft.
The Padre farm system is currently top-5, and could very well be the best in all of major league baseball. The depth of this system is absolutely crazy and you have to thank A.J. Preller, among others, for that. Of course young talent doesn’t guarantee success, but you have to appreciate the way this club is changing its old caveman ways. Embracing the international market is just the beginning as this club searches for an identity, something it has never truly had for more than a few seasons at a time.
A.J. Preller is back, folks. Allow him to do his thing and the wins will come. The drama is over. Just as in life, we must move forward. There is work to be done as he constructs a 2017 roster. Hopefully this vacation time gave him time to reflect and do what he does best. Assess talent and study the game of baseball. Welcome back A.J.