A.J. Preller’s 2020 “To-Do List”

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(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Taking a look at San Diego Padres’ general manager A.J. Preller and his to-do list for the 2020 season.

The 2020 season for the San Diego Padres has long been touted the year of contention.

Everyone from Ron Fowler to A.J Preller to even the players have all been reiterating that next year, the expectation is winning. A.J. Preller has done a fantastic job acquiring talent during this rebuild. However, he has not shown the ability to turn that talent into wins in the major leagues.

Let’s take a look at the items on Preller’s proverbial “to-do list” to get the team on the path to winning. 

The most pressing issue for the Padres and A.J. Preller is to hire a manager. There has been much speculation, and EVT has you covered with articles on potential replacements and sleepers. This hiring should also mean many new coaches brought on to the staff. This is the first significant move Preller will have to make this year. It may be the most important, but certainly will not be his last. The Padres are looking for the best combination of a manager that will command respect, while also using new-age technology and analytics to get the most out of the players. Speaking Spanish is quite possibly a must for the new man in charge due to the sheer number of Spanish speaking players on the roster. Possible candidates include:

Joe Maddon

Rod Barajas

Mark Loretta 

Brad Ausmus

Jayce Tingler

Ron Washington 

The Padres currently have 51 players on the 40-man roster, which needs to be reduced to 40 players five days after the World Series ends. With Craig Stammen’s contract expiring, it makes ten spots that need to be freed up via release or trade. It does appear that the Padres will be able to get back to 40 without losing any significant pieces, yet most of the players that are likely to be released have some value. They could easily be picked up by other teams and developed into role players. Preller will want to avoid losing any player for nothing, only to see them used against the team later in the season. The Padres will likely try to work a trade or two to help soften the blow, but this list of players are possible candidates to be released. 

Robert Stock

Miguel Diaz

Carl Edwards Jr.

Robbie Erlin

Anderson Espinoza

Brett Kennedy

Jacob Nix

Eric Yardley

Seth Mejias-Brean

Adam Warren

Aaron Loup

Ian Kinsler 

After the 40-man deadline passes, the Padres will need to continue to upgrade the team. They have identified several positions that need to be addressed.

First and foremost is a top of the rotation pitcher. With all the young arms on the team, having a veteran that can be depended on will lessen the workload and the expectations of the younger starters. Other areas include solidifying the outfield, possibly upgrading at second base, and catcher spots while improving the offensive output of the lineup. Preller could also add a bullpen arm or two.

It’s been tough to gauge how active the Padres will be in free agency. No telling if they can go after a Gerritt Cole or Stephen Strasburg type player. Even if they do sign a big free agent, it would likely be the only major signing they could make. The other needs of the team would be met via trade, likely using some of the players listed below.

Luis Urias 

Cal Quantrill 

Adrian Morejon

Joey Lucchesi

Josh Naylor

Luis Torrens 

Hunter Renfroe 

Franchy Cordero 

Ronald Bolanos

Eric Lauer

Austin Hedges 

David Bednar

Edward Olivares

Ty France

Travis Jankowski 

Austin Allen

Wil Myers + $10 – $30 million

The Padres also have the top farm system, and that can be used in trades.  A.J. Preller has been reluctant to trade away any prospects, but Ron Fowler’s “Heads may roll” comments may persuade him to make a bold move this winter. The reality is, the Padres could trade away a few prospects and still have an above-average farm system. Some prospects are likely considered untouchable, such as MacKenzie Gore, Luis Patino, Taylor Trammell, and CJ Abrams. If one of these four players were indeed moved, it would only come in a huge, blockbuster trade. The minor league players listed below may be considered trade pieces.

Ryan Weathers LHP

Xavier Edwards Middle INF

Joey Cantillo LHP

Gabriel Arias SS

Hudson Potts 3B

Owen Miller Middle INF

Buddy Reed OF

Tirso Ornelas OF

Hudson Head OF

After assembling the 40-man roster, Preller may find the need to save a spot or two for prospects. In the past few years, the Padres have used the Rule 5 draft to add players like Luis Perdomo, Miguel Diaz, and Luis Torrens.

Now, other teams may be ready to turn the tables on Preller. It’s difficult to say who exactly needs protecting, especially before all teams cutting to 40 men. However, Esteury Ruiz and Buddy Reed are among the players eligible and are currently Top 30 prospects in the organization, according to MLB Pipeline. Michael Gettys and Jorge Oña may get some considerations from other clubs due to reliable output. Henry Henry and Lake Bachar are pitchers that could also be selected. With the additional roster spot this year, the Rule 5 draft may be more significant than ever. Preller may even trade some of these players before the draft to avoid losing them for practically nothing. 

Even after all of these moves, A.J. Preller and company will still sign players to minor league contracts, and issue invites to spring training. After spring training, there will be the selection of the 26-man opening day roster. It would not be surprising to have trades and trade rumors heat up until the trade deadline in 2020. Let’s not forget the amateur draft and international signing period as well, as Preller is always heavily involved in both. 

The job of a general manager is seemingly never-ending. A.J Preller will not only be busy this season, but a lack of results on the field may end up costing him his job. There will undoubtedly be a lot of action from the Padres this winter; many changes are coming. For now, one must simply wait for the announcement of the new manager, and the rest of the offseason dominos are sure to fall shortly thereafter. 

7 thoughts on “A.J. Preller’s 2020 “To-Do List”

    1. Hopefully #1 on Fowler’s to-do list for next year is to fire Preller. If I interpret the “heads will roll” comment correctly it sounds like that’s basically Fowler’s plan – unless by some stroke of luck we actually make the playoffs in 2020 – or at least are in the playoff picture in September as was promised.

  1. Good article. You make a lot of good points. But you leave out the biggest problem decision for Preller, what to do about Eric Hosmer.
    He absolutely sucks. The lowest wRC+ (91) of all qualified 1Bmen, and tied with Pujols for the worst WAR (-0.4) of all 1Bmen. Teams with the worst player at his position don’t go to the playoffs.
    His 2019 wRC+ against right handed pitching was a putrid 102. Against lefties it was 59! Put simply he’s borderline unplayable against righties and something like AA level against lefties.
    This was a bad signing at the time, but it’s turned into a disaster. Even without his no trade clause he would be impossible to trade (his contract makes Myers’ look like a sweet bargain), so it’s either cut him and eat $100 mil +, or platoon him and live with stinky numbers against righties.
    At this point the GM has to suck it up and tell the player the club no longer sees him as an everyday player. It will not go smoothly (Boras is his agent) but it needs to be done. The in house platoon partner is…..Wil Myers, whose wRC+ versus left handed pitchers was 130.

    1. I wouldn’t be against it per se, but those types of things were covered by James in a previous article. He also went over getting Hedges and Mejia to work better together as well as some other topics. You should check it out.

    2. I wouldn’t say EH sucks. He’s average. So average, in fact that his WAR is exactly 0.0 (the XTRA guys were playing the “Zero point zero” soundbite). He’s just being massively overpaid (as is MM). Both bad signings by a GM who is good at identifying minor league talent but clearly doesn’t understand how to put together a cost-effective roster.

      1. 0 WAR is not average. It is far below average when compared to other 1B’s. As said elsewhere, he actually had a negative WAR when measured by other places. Either way, he does suck. He is horrible. He is the worst 1B in the league. And he will continue to kill the Padres.

        1. Maybe I misunderstand the WAR metric but I thought it was a measure of one’s performance vs. others at the same position, so a roughly 0 WAR means basically an average player at that position. At any rate, I think we agree that EH is clearly WAY overpaid.

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