As the calendar has turned to 2020, Padres fans eagerly await Spring Training and perhaps a few more moves by A.J. Preller. History tells us fans will need to wait until February.
A.J. Preller has turned into one of the more recognizable general managers in baseball, for better or for worse.
Whether it be because of the questionable medical history of some players he traded away or for his shopping spree before the 2015 season, or the elite farm system he has amassed since then, baseball people know about Preller.
However, despite his affinity for trades, making splashes, and collecting prospects, January has historically been his quietest offseason month. Padres fans all remember the 2014-2015 offseason when he acquired the likes of Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, Justin Upton, James Shields, and Craig Kimbrel. However, most of that excitement came in December and then just mere hours before Opening Day in April.
This offseason, Preller has made some deals that have instantly made the Friars a better team. Adding Zach Davies, Trent Grisham, Jurickson Profar, Drew Pomeranz, and Tommy Pham, all in late November and December. But Fans are hoping that he continues to add to either the outfield or starting rotation.
History would suggest they will need to wait a few more weeks, as Spring Training gets closer.
Looking back at all of Preller’s offseason moves, his January transactions have been very inconsequential, making little impact on that next big-league season. Preller has acquired 30 players and prospects in January in his time as San Diego’s GM, and only three contributed better than a zero WAR that next season.
|Name||bWAR in SD that next season|
Adam Rosales has been the most successful January acquisition for Preller. He hit .229 but recorded a .814 OPS and 118 OPS+ and was at least an average defender everywhere he played, which was at five different positions in San Diego.
Craig Stammen became a staple in the bullpen and is Preller’s greatest January success to date. He was more of a re-signing in January of 2018 as he played the 2017 season in San Diego. He has a total WAR of 3.9 in three seasons for the Friars and 2.3 since he re-signed that January.
Trevor Cahill was gone as quickly as he came, making just 11 starts for the Friars before being flipped to Kansas City for prospects. Even in that little time, he earned almost one full win of WAR with a 115 ERA+ and 3.69 ERA.
Aside from those three players, Preller has not signed or traded for anyone that has made any significant contributions to the big league club.
Other notable January acquisitions were a massive disappointment. Alexei Ramirez might be the biggest of them all, as he turned in -2.2 WAR as the everyday shortstop for San Diego in 2016 before being released. He hit .240 with a punchless .605 OPS.
Christian Villanueva had a promising start his season before trailing off considerably once the league adjusted, and he finished with a -1.1 WAR.
Preller’s January moves rarely pack any sort of punch and almost none of them were actually expected to do so. His biggest splashes have come in December, February and right before the season starts. January seems to be a lull for Preller.
Among his 30 players acquired, just six have made any impact, positive or negative, on the big league roster the following year.
That is not to say something absolutely will not happen, but history suggests fans will have to wait for that calendar to turn to February.