A.J. Preller has been the Padres’ general manager for over three years.
When I say there have been ups and downs, that is a severe understatement.
He made a statement almost right away, in his first offseason, before the 2015 season.
This offseason has been a lot quieter.
We are still waiting on the fate of players like Brad Hand and Yangervis Solarte and also awaiting Eric Hosmer’s decision of where to go. Let’s take a look at the three best and worst moves of his time so far in San Diego.
I will start with the bad, in order to end on a good note.
February 11, 2015: Padres sign free agent James Shields
Like many bad ideas, this at first looked like a great idea. Shields was coming off of a strong season with a 3.21 ERA in 227 innings and a World Series appearance. He was the definition of “workhorse” as he posted eight straight 200+ innings before coming to San Diego.
The signs were there that he was headed for a decline. His first season in San Diego was acceptable except for the fact that he led the major leagues in homers allowed with 33. He did reach 202 innings and won 13 games though.
The reason why he makes this list is because he signed a four-year, $75 million contract and the Padres still owe him just over $10 million, despite the fact that he was traded to the White Sox in the middle of a disastrous 2016. I witnessed his final start as a Padre when they played the Mariners at Safeco Field. He was blasted for 10 earned runs in just 2 2/3 innings. The home run ball continued to be a problem as he had a 4.28 ERA in 11 starts for the Friars in 2016 before being shipped to the White Sox. Now, I give credit to Preller for getting Fernando Tatis Jr. in the deal for Shields, but the fact that the Padres are still paying him to stink it up with a different team hurts.
I am of the unpopular crowd that was quite sad when Kemp left. I liked him as a Padre. It gave the Padres a face and its lineup had a name everyone in baseball recognized. Now, I understand there may have been some behind-the-scenes clubhouse issues with Kemp, but at the plate, I don’t understand why the Padres and Preller were so eager to say goodbye. For one, he hit for the first cycle in Padres history. He reached the 100 RBI plateau in 2015. He had 23 home runs with a 106 OPS+ in 100 games for the Padres in 2016 before being dealt. He was nothing short of productive at the plate. His defense may have lacked in the outfield, but how many outfielders are Gold Glovers with that kind of power? Maybe three? Picky, picky, picky.
Plus, let’s look at the other side of things. Olivera is worthless. He’s only played in 30 major league games and none since April 11, 2016. He was arrested after a domestic dispute and was suspended for 82 games. Olivera is a free agent, yet the Padres are still on the hook for over $20 million of his contract. I would rather be paying Kemp to hit and play suspect defense than Olivera to beat women and sit on his couch.
February 9, 2017: Padres sign free agent Jered Weaver
The fact that this makes the list is a testament to how successful Preller has been. He really has not had a ton of clunkers. After that really disappointing 2015, he made up for it by stocking the farm system well.
Weaver was on the tail end of a solid career. The Padres signed him to a one year, $3 million contract. They got virtually nothing in return (maybe besides the younger guys getting some veteran tips from the 34-year-old). He made nine starts in a Padres’ uniform and posted a 7.44 ERA. He basically made over $330,000 per start. He also never won a game for the Friars, going 0-5, and in fact, the Padres were 0-9 in his starts.
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