Padres do right by AJ Preller, promoting and extending him through 2026
By Jake Misener
To all the naysayers and doubters, your time has come. The man with a plan is here to stay.
The San Diego Padres promoted AJ Preller to president of baseball operations on Tuesday, simultaneously extending his deal to keep him in San Diego until at least 2026. There will be no search for a general manager, as he retains that title, as well.
"“Erik and A.J. have earned their promotions by assembling strong business and baseball operations groups within our organization while working together toward our singular goal of winning a World Series championship,” Padres owner Peter Seidler told MLB.com. “A.J. has skillfully built both a playoff-caliber Major League club and a top-tier Minor League system.”"
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Seidler mentioned Erik Greupner in his comments, the organization’s president of business operations who will now serve in the role of CEO. As for Preller, the wheeling-and-dealing front office guru looks safe after arguably the most impressive offseason in Padres history.
After compiling a farm system that ranks near the top of the league, he was able to make some big-time trades without touching his most highly-valued prospects like CJ Abrams or MacKenzie Gore. Despite this, he added Yu Darvish, who finished runner-up in the Cy Young race in 2020, a former AL Cy Young winner in Blake Snell and local product Joe Musgrove this offseason via trade.
And let’s not forget that he pulled off a blockbuster last summer, swinging a deal for right-hander Mike Clevinger – also without giving up top-shelf talent. In 2022, when all these guys are healthy and ready to go, San Diego will look even better on paper than it does right now – which is certainly saying something.
Patience paid off for the Padres and AJ Preller
In 2019, Preller was in his fifth full season at the helm of the baseball operations department. During that span, the team had languished, going 349-461 (.431) and losing 90 or more games in four consecutive seasons. But last year was definitely different, as the Padres returned to the postseason for the first time in well over a decade.
Look, tanking and going through a rebuild via high draft picks is the tried and true way to get an organization back on its feet. But let’s be clear. It doesn’t always work out. Prospects don’t develop, free agent signings aimed at bolstering that young core flop, managers go by the wayside – there are a million ways it can go off the rails.
After a half-decade plus, more than a few folks were starting to wonder when – or even if – Preller would flip the switch and the Padres would start turning the corner. We got our first glimpse of what that looks like in 2020 and now that he’s locked up with the rest of his young core, we’ll get to see what he has in store next as San Diego heads into 2021 ready to turn heads.