A.J. Preller is the absolute man, and San Diego Padres fans are still in shock from the acquisition of Craig Kimbrel from the Atlanta Braves. Twitterverse went absolutely crazy when the deal was announced. I was lucky enough to be on Twitter at the time, and the reaction of some of the Padres fans was priceless.
Most fans were speculating a move due to the fact the Padres had not submitted their 25 man roster to major league baseball yet. The noon deadline came and went, but still nothing. Then news broke, and my immediate reaction was to laugh for about five minutes straight. I could not wipe the smile off my face for hours. Nor could most Padres fans.
Craig Kimbrel at the age of 26 has a long career ahead of him. He in his five years in Atlanta, has been absolutely flat-out dominant. With saves totals of 46, 42, 50 and 47 his last three years the Padres ninth inning is essentially locked down.
Kimbrel owns a career ERA of 1.43 and a career WHIP of 0.903. He has struck out 476 hitters in only 289 innings. The man is the epitome of a closer and the Padres have him under contract for the next three seasons with a 4th year team option.
That in itself is the most exciting part of this years Padres team. They are here for the long haul. If the Padres don’t win it all, the nucleus of the team being Matt Kemp, Derek Norris, Wil Myers, Craig Kimbrel and James Shields are signed for at least the next four seasons. The team will be competitive now and in the future.
As a Padres fan that type of security has been a rare thing. In 1998 the Padres had a fantastic run, but the free agency looming for Kevin Brown, Ken Caminiti and Steve Finley put a damper on the celebration. In fact all three players were gone only months after lifting the National League Trophy over their heads. Padres fans were left with memories and a hard pill to swallow.
Flash forward to this season and the same excitement, if not more is running rampant all over the city of San Diego. The Padres are going to be competitive and the fans are ready for that. Its been a long time coming. Thanks to the efforts of A.J. Preller and the whole Padres management the city of San Diego can take pride in our baseball franchise.
The addition of Craig Kimbrel has a trickle down effect. We already saw that Kevin Quackenbush and Brandon Maurer were sent down. Both pitchers were moved simply because they have minor league options left. Quackenbush and Maurer are to have big rolls with the team this season at some point. The fact they are in triple-A just shows how much depth the Padres have at the relief position. Could another trade be on the horizon?
It’s no secret A. J. Preller is not shy about consumating deals. If he feels there is a need that has to be addressed, he will do it. In my eyes, the names of Joaquin Benoit and Dale Thayer could be moved shorly. Thayer is relatively inexpensive but Benoit and his eight million dollar salary could be deemed expendable.
Teams are surely looking for quality relief pitchers and the Padres have them coming out of their ears. We will just have to wait and see what is next for the Padres. The season is a marathon, and we have barely finished game one. Stay tuned Padres fans!