Drafted CJ Abrams and many others
Although it’s difficult to grade any draft class the year it happens, the Padres first-round draft pick CJ Abrams has already shown to be a prospect to watch. After reporting, Abrams started hot and got promoted to Low-A Fort Wayne TinCaps to end the season. Abrams is already ranked 4th in the organization and 46th overall by MLBPipeline. It would appear Preller drafted quite the steal at number six overall. That alone earns an A grade, but it is too early to judge any other picks.
Signed international group
The Padres continue to be heavily active in the international market. The Padres signed four players that ranked 15th, 19th, 22nd and 29th by MLB Pipeline. Although it is entirely too early, just by going off of rankings, Preller appears to have done an excellent job yet again internationally. The future should remain bright for the farm system.
Traded Jose Pirela for cash
After Jose Pirela did not make the opening day roster, he was eventually put on waivers to make room on the 40-man roster. He was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for cash. Pirela wasn’t going to crack the 25-man roster, so there wasn’t a good enough reason to keep him.
When the Padres traded Brad Wieck for Carl Edwards Jr.at the deadline it mostly went unnoticed. Edwards Jr was pivotal in the Cubs’ World Series run but had since lost his touch and turned in poor performances. Brad Wieck is a younger, left-handed pitcher that throws 94-95 mph with relative ease but struggles with location. After a couple of games and giving up six runs, Edwards Jr. ended up on the IL for San Diego. The Cubs meanwhile, went to work on Wieck, improving his offspeed pitches, getting him to throw them more often. It worked. Wieck looks like a different pitcher for the Cubs and has only given up two runs in ten innings, while only allowing two walks. It’s a small sample size, but again, he looks like a different pitcher. Acquiring cheap bullpen arms and turning them into All-Star pitchers is something to Padres have been known to do to other teams after a trade. This time, another team did it to them. This is a total failure by the coaches and GM not to recognize potential. This is one of the worst moves made this season.
The monster three-team trade at the July deadline will be analyzed for years to come. Franmil Reyes was a clubhouse and fan favorite. It’s unknown whether it was Cleveland or San Diego that chose to deal Reyes over Hunter Renfroe, but La Mole was dealt. At the time, Renfroe was hitting equally as well as Reyes but was much better defensively. However, after the trade, Renfroe hit a wall offensively, and the clubhouse was never the same. The loss of Logan Allen is cushioned by the sheer number of young Padres’ arms in the system. Victor Nova was also playing well, but the young man is only 19 and is considered a lottery ticket. In return, the Padres received top-30 prospect Taylor Trammell that became available only after a poor first half offensively. Trammell already had an excellent looking left-handed swing, and the Padres made a couple of small adjustments to get the young man back on track. He led the Double-A Sod Poodles to a League Championship, hitting a go-ahead grand slam in the top of the ninth, down by two runs in game five. An amazing cap off to a great end of the season for Trammell and the Sod Poodles. Trammell is a four-tool player lacking elite arm strength. His speed and defense will keep likely make him the Padres starting center fielder in 2021. For now, this trade receives a high grade, but it could change in the coming years.
Claimed Nick Martini off waivers
Ending on a good note, Nick Martini was a steal for the Padres off the waiver wire. He is a left-handed bat that can work a count and get on base. Martini is the type of player the Padres will be looking for this offseason to take over one of the corner outfield positions. The Padres could keep him next year as a backup outfielder. Getting production and a sweet beard for nothing will always garner a high grade.
If we add up all the grades, Preller ends the year with roughly a 2.6 GPA (Grade Per Acquisition), or about a C+. This is probably a little harsh; a GM is not expected to win every transaction. Preller made a few great moves, a few bad ones, and took a few chances this year. Overall A.J. Preller had a decent year of transactions. However, the upcoming 2020 offseason will be one of the most important in Padres history, and Preller will not be able to afford as many mistakes.
In 2019, the Padres were not competitive at the end of the year, but Preller still kept his job. 2020 may be a different story. Preller has always been lauded for his minor league acquisitions, but his evaluation of major league talent has come under scrutiny. He has a lot of work to do at the major league level this offseason. Hopefully, he can improve his recent track record and fill this team with more talent than it’s had in many years. His job likely depends on it.