A.J. Preller and the Padres swing and miss as deadline passes

Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: AP Photo

The Padres came close to several big names on the trade market but did not close the deal. 

When the week started, most pundits tabbed the Padres as the main team to watch, heading to Friday’s trade deadline. General manager A.J. Preller has a reputation around the league as a swashbuckling wheeler-and-dealer. His shopping spree ahead of the 2015 season earned him the nickname “Rockstar GM.” After that failed, one of the trades turned into Fernando Tatis Jr, perhaps one of the best trades (or worst, for the White Sox) in Major League Baseball history. Then last year, after the Padres made the playoffs for the first time in 14 years, he made a flurry of moves in the winter to bring in the likes of Blake Snell, Yu Darvish, and Joe Musgrove. Fans rejoiced as the team got better.

Now, following the trade deadline, not as many fans are singing Preller’s praises.

Even before Thursday’s hoopla, the Padres were in on former Rangers slugger Joey Gallo. In fact, multiple sources had pinned the deal as close to done as possible, and it included Eric Hosmer being shipped to Texas. The Friars would have welcomed a much-needed left-handed slugger who plays elite defense in the outfield with an excellent on-base percentage as well as shed at least some of Hosmer’s burdensome contract.

Then the Yankees swooped in and got a deal done, sending Gallo to New York.

The hang-up appeared to be Hosmer’s contract. Preller seemed set on shedding as much of his contract as possible, and it cost the Friars an All-Star slugging outfielder.

On Thursday afternoon, it was reported that the Padres were close to making a trade with the Washington Nationals for three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer. Twitter set ablaze.

Even though the deal was not confirmed or finalized, the fans went wild with fantasies of Scherzer wearing brown and gold before they could be stopped. That made what followed even more painful.

With that excruciating turn of events, the Padres let Scherzer not only slip through their fingers but fall to the hated Dodgers- the team the Padres are chasing for the No. 1 Wild Card spot and perhaps a division title. Not only that, but the Dodgers struck a deal to have the Nationals include All-Star shortstop Trea Turner, who owns a career .996 against the Padres, the team who drafted him.

How that happened is still up for debate. Did the Nationals leak information to reporters like Ken Rosenthal to drive up the price? Was famous sports agent Scott Boras involved in spreading misinformation? Did Rosenthal, and his employer, The Athletic, have a bad source? We may never know.

Either way, the Dodgers got two 2021 All-Stars, and one of the best pitchers and shortstops in baseball, and the Padres got zip.

It doesn’t end there. Although it was doubtful the Padres ever were serious about acquiring former MVP Kris Bryant from the Cubs, the other bitter rival in the NL West, the Giants, did swing a deal for the versatile slugger.

The Dodgers and Giants got markedly, significantly better over the past few days and the Padres did not.

Preller and the Padres also swung and missed on two-time All-Star starting pitcher Jose Berrios from the Twins. Most cited the ridiculous haul the Toronto Blue Jays sent to the Twins for his services as a way to justify not bringing him to San Diego (the Blue Jays sent their No. 2 and No. 4 prospects to Minnesota). It was clear the Padres wanted him, and flat-out got outbid. That is not familiar territory to Preller and Padres fans, given the recent riches, the Padres’ general manager collected.

Most thought the Padres would then turn their sights to the leftovers on the starting pitcher market- Kyle Gibson, Kenta Maeda, Jon Gray, and company. One by one, the Padres either got outbid, or that player didn’t end up moving at all. Gibson (along with Texas closer Ian Kennedy) went off to Philadelphia. Maeda and Gray stayed put.

Other starters were on the move as well without so much as a glance in San Diego’s direction. J.A. Happ, Trevor Williams, Jon Lester, and Andrew Heaney all were shipped to different teams on Friday.

A.J. Preller had a top-10 farm system at his disposal plus some movable pieces at the major league level, yet no major move made it to the finish line on Friday.

Preller acquired proven reliever Daniel Hudson from Washington, and he will be an asset to the bullpen. However, he is currently on the COVID injured list, making his arrival date in San Diego murky. He owns a 2.99 ERA since 2019.

Jake Marisnick, with 700 games of experience in the outfield, also came in a deal that sent once-prized prospect Anderson Espinoza back to the Cubs.

Plus, Adam Frazier is no insignificant piece either, given that he is a 2021 All-Star Game starter and the current hits leader in all of baseball.


However, it could have been so much more. The Friars were closing in on a deal with Joey Gallo and Max Scherzer, both multi-year All-Stars and not only came away with neither but allowed Scherzer to get to a rival that stands directly in the way of the Padres’ World Series aspirations. They now face the prospect of either facing Max Scherzer or another Dodgers All-Star starter or the Kris Bryant-led Giants in a one-game playoff if they do not win the division.

Yes, the Padres are a better team today than they were last week. However, it looks like their two biggest rivals, the two teams that are ahead of them already in the NL West standings, got much better and distanced themselves from San Diego.

Plus, the Friars cannot rest on their laurels, assuming their Wild Card spot is in the bag. The Braves, Cardinals, and Phillies all swung multiple deals today to get better and aim to chase the Padres down.

The Padres have their work cut out for them in the final two months of the season. All Preller can do now is hope guys like Blake Snell step up their game and play like they are capable.

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Nick Lee
Native of Escondido, CA. Lived in San Diego area for 20 years. Padres fan since childhood (mid-90s). I have been writing since 2014. I currently live near Seattle, WA and am married to a Seattle sports girl. I wore #19 on my high school baseball team for Tony Gwynn. I am a stats and sports history nerd. I attended BYU on the Idaho campus. I also love Star Wars.

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