Today in Phoenix, the annual General Manager meetings got underway. Beat writers, national writers, and the like all descended on the desert for some golf, catching up with co-horts, and getting the skinny on what teams are going to be doing this winter, as the Winter Meetings approach soon as well.
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For A.J. Preller of the San Diego Padres, this has to be an exciting time. As a first-time GM, he gets to kick the tires on free agents, talk shop with his GM brethren, and start feeling out the market in anticipation of what the team needs, what they can afford, and who will fit the blueprint to rebuild an anemic offense that ranked as one of the worst of the past half century.
The Padres have holes to fill at third base, shortstop, first base, catcher, and the corner outfield spots. If you really wanted to get picky, you could say an upgrade in center field is needed as well, because who in their right mind would want to head into spring training, 2015, with Cameron Maybin and Will Venable as your choices?
Unfortunately, the market is filled with quality players, and very few impact, franchise-changing superstars. Yasmany Tomas is probably considered the biggest free agent bat the Padres will pursue. He’s looking for a $100 million contract, but has yet to take a big league swing. If he pans out like Jose Abreu, Yasiel Puig, or even what Yoenis Cespedes is capable of, he might be worth the risk. Reports indicate the Phillies are the favorite, but Preller recently told season ticket holders that the Friars are not out of the hunt for his services yet:
As the GM meetings get underway, several players who were expected to decline their team’s qualifying offers, will hit free agency. It’s never too early to get a jump on free agent pieces, as was displayed earlier today when the Mets signed Michael Cuddyer to a two-year deal, only after he rejected the Rockies’ QO.
If the Padres do intend to upgrade their lineup through any means necessary and available: free agency, trades, international scouting, etc., now is the time to jump. Sure, the Winter Meetings are coming, but with several quality players available at decent prices, the Friars cannot wait for the market to develop. A.J. Preller and company need to make the initial splash, and let the fan base and the rest of the baseball world know that they are here to improve the roster, and are here to compete in 2015.