San Diego Padres general manager A.J. Preller, 46, has a nickname: Madman. Since his arrival in San Diego in August 2014, Preller has been on a nonstop hunt for big-name players through aggressive trades and free agency. He has a reputation as a man of tenacity who will stop at nothing to get his hands on something.
Even last winter, Preller surprised everyone with his unexpected moves. After signing Manny Machado (11 years, $350 million), Darvish Yu (6 years, $108 million), and Jake Cronenweth (7 years, $80 million) to long-term extensions, he made a surprise acquisition of free-agent shortstop Xander Bogaerts for 11 years, $280 million.
With two shortstop options on the roster in last year’s National League (NL) Gold Glove shortstop finalist, Ha-Sung Kim, and a suspended Fernando Tatis Jr. on the way out, no one expected the team to add Bogaerts to the mix. With Bogaerts, Kim moved to second base and Tatis Jr. moved to right field, creating a positional shuffle.
However, Bogaerts has struggled this season, batting just .265 (110-for-415) with 11 homers, 37 RBIs and a .727 OPS in 109 games. It’s his worst performance since 2015, when he made the leap to a major league role. He sparkled in March and April, going 3-for-8 with six homers, 13 RBIs and a .914 OPS, but hasn’t rebounded since May, going 2-for-5 with five homers, 24 RBIs and a .661 OPS.
In addition to Bogart, the players that Preller gave extensions to – Machado (99 games, .251, 21 homers, 66 RBIs, .765 OPS), Cronenwirth (113 games, .227, nine homers, 42 RBIs, .693 OPS), and Darvish (21 games, 8-7, 4.19 ERA) – have not lived up to expectations, leaving the team with a 55-60 record, fourth in the NL West and seventh in the wild card. The lack of return on investment has led to criticism of Preller as fall baseball gets tougher.카지노
Fans criticize Preller as “more interested in big contracts”
In a question-and-answer session with readers of The San Diego Chronicle’s Dennis Lin on Nov. 11, fans had a lot to say about Preller. One fan questioned Preller’s ability to build a roster, saying, “Why did you sign Bogaerts when you have two very capable shortstops in Tatis and Ha-Sung Kim? Couldn’t you have used that money better this year or signed Juan Soto to an extension?” Another questioned Preller’s ability to build a roster.
Another fan wrote, “San Diego just announced higher season ticket prices for 2024. The price of watching baseball in San Diego is going up, but not the quality,” and “In his first nine seasons, Preller has a winning percentage of less than 5 percent. He’s only had one full-season winning percentage above .530 (.530 last year),” and “he’s burdened the organization with outrageous contracts that fans will have to pay for years.
In response, Lin said, “These are valid questions. Concerns about Preller’s roster construction have persisted into his 10th year in charge. He’s a tireless scout who has led the team to the playoffs twice in the last three years, but one of those times came in a 60-game shortened season, and this year, for the second time in four years, he’s in danger of delivering a major disappointment.
“This year, the Padres are great on defense and starting pitching, but their offense, which was one of the most highly touted in league history, is woefully underwhelming. The bench and bullpen suffer from a lack of depth,” and echoed the fans’ frustration, saying, “If you re-sign Brandon Drury to play first base, keep Ha Sung Kim and Cronenwirth at shortstop and second base, and spend the money you spent on Bogart on an outfielder or filling other holes, you have to wonder where the team is now.
The Dodgers certainly had their reasons for signing Bogart. At the time of the signing last December, there was a good chance that Machado would opt out and become a free agent after this season. As Lin noted, “San Diego has liked Bogart for years and was looking for another proven bat to back up Machado. They saw Bogaerts as insurance in case Machado opted out and went elsewhere.
However, during spring training in February, the Padres signed Machado to an 11-year extension. Both Machado and Bogaerts are guaranteed through their age 41 seasons in 2033. Both players are now in their 30s, making them potentially toxic contracts in the long run. “It’s hard to see how they won’t be a drag on the team in the future,” Lin said, adding that nine years into his tenure, Preller is perceived by the sports world as a general manager more interested in flashy contracts than efficient roster construction.
Kim shines amid big-money star slump, “one of Preller’s best signings”
Despite being under pressure, Preller’s January 2021 signing of Ha-Sung Kim to a 4+1 year, $28 million guaranteed, $39 million maximum deal is considered a success. Even at the time, there were concerns that Kim would be “redundant” with an infield set with Tatis at shortstop, Cronenworth at second base, and Machado at third base.
In his first year as a backup, Kim’s utilization was questionable. However, after establishing himself as the starting shortstop last year while Tatis was sidelined with injuries and a PED suspension, Kim moved to second base this year and opened up his batting potency. He has become an irreplaceable player in the outfield, batting .835 with 15 home runs, 41 RBIs, 27 doubles and an OPS of .835 in 110 games (106-for-368) this season.
According to Lin, “Kim has been playing very well by any standard. Despite moving to a position other than shortstop this year, he leads all infielders in DRS (Defensive Runs Saved). He is second among full-time second basemen in wRC+ (adjusted run production), behind only Luis Arajuez (Miami), who is the NL’s leading hitter.
“In San Diego, where several star players are having down seasons, Ha-Sung Kim has been the most pleasant surprise and arguably the most valuable,” Lin continued, “He deserves credit for trying to fit in, but signing him before the 2021 season was one of Preller’s best moves. After repeated failures, the signing of Kim Ha-Sung is recognized as one of Freller’s greatest achievements. /firstname.lastname@example.org