A new general manager. One of the youngest in the history of the game. A new general manager that wants to make an impact, and make it immediately, while attempting to build for the future. That’s the predicament that A.J. Preller now finds himself in. Here’s the thing, he’s known as a bit of an eccentric. That’s okay. That only means he thinks outside of the box for solutions to existing problems. He has learned under his longtime college buddy, Jon Daniels with the Texas Rangers. He made it through a couple of rounds of grueling interviews before coming out as the last person standing.
In less than 24 hours, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that Preller has been hired as the new Padres’ general manager. A contract was signed, sealed, and delivered, a press conference had taken place, multiple members of the existing front office resigned and left the organization, and oh by the way, San Diego native and current Philadelphia Phillies’ ace Cole Hamels was claimed on waivers by an unknown team. Could the stars actually align for Preller and the San Diego Padres? Could the ace of their dreams fall right into their laps?
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. tends to play hardball when he’s talking trade. He tends to ask for the world, while not being willing to give much back in return. The Phillies placed Hamels on revocable waivers, and someone has claimed him. We still don’t know who, but as the system works, the teams with the worst records, within Hamels’ own league get first crack at him. Who has one of the worst records in the National League? Your hometown San Diego Padres that’s who!
If this was a deal that was worked behind the scenes with Preller involved, knowing that he was going to be the GM, perhaps he is more maverick than anyone gave him credit for? What would bringing Cole Hamels home to San Diego mean for the Padres? Say for a minute, that the Phillies didn’t pull Hamels back, and were willing to work a deal. The Padres are one of nine teams that Hamels has no say in as to whether or not he’ll be dealt.
The Padres most likely have the pieces to get the deal done. It won’t be cheap, but acquiring a staff ace in the prime of his career never is. Here’s the kicker. If the Padres wish to take on Hamels’ contract, with his vesting option, that will come out to $110,000,000. Yes, you read that correctly. Would the Phillies be willing to part with that? Most of the time when a team is trying to unload a pricey veteran, they’ll take less in talent if the receiving team is willing to eat more money. If the Padres are going to force Philly to eat some of that chunk, then the price in prospects just went up. Say a combination of Max Fried, Austin Hedges, Jesse Hahn, and Rymer Liriano gets the deal done, at an affordable rate for the Padres.
Now before you fall out of your seat, and say whatever it is you’re going to scream at the monitor, think about this rotation for a moment if the deal were to come to fruition: Hamels, Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, Ian Kennedy, and any combination of Odrisamer Despaigne, Casey Kelly, Matt Wisler, or Robbie Erlin. That top four, competes with ANY starting rotation in baseball. It also leaves some solid prospects in the farm system, AND gets Hamels’ dollars that the Padres are on the hook for down.
While this deal likely won’t happen, because odds are, A.J. Preller had zero to do with anything Padres’-related before Tuesday when he accepted the job and was working out the final details of his contract that would be announced on Wednesday, it’s nice to dream about the down on it’s luck franchise making such a large splash, being willing to roll the dice on an established big league ace, and send the message that the Padres won’t be kicked around anymore.
For fans of the San Diego Padres, who are sick and tired of their team being an also-ran, who are tired of watching stiffs don the blue and gold, who are tired of watching money get flushed down the toilet on people like Josh Johnson and Carlos Quentin, it’s nice to think about for a few moments, the possibility of the Cole Hamels coming home to San Diego. Until we find at who the mystery team is that claimed the lefty, it could be anyone…including the Padres. Although the odds are stacked against that being reality, let’s keep our collective fingers crossed that it’s not you know who up the freeway!