3 AJ Preller decisions that could seal his fate with Padres after 2024

2024 San Diego Padres Spring Training
2024 San Diego Padres Spring Training / Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/GettyImages
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On Aug. 6, 2014, the San Diego Padres hired AJ Preller as their new general manager. During his current reign, the Padres have made the postseason twice (2020 and 2022), but suffered through six losing seasons.

In 2024, Preller has the difficult task of fulfilling deceased team owner Peter Seidler’s dream of winning a World Series title in San Diego. The Friars are one of five teams (Milwaukee Brewers, Seattle Mariners, Colorado Rockies, and Tampa Bay Rays) to have never won a championship.

The Friar Faithful thought last season’s team was good enough to win it all, but they never could get it together. And no one can explain their season-long malaise.

In a perfect world, Preller would have upgraded the roster without any financial limitations. Last season’s team had the largest payroll in franchise history ($256 million). However, this offseason has been less than perfect for the long-tenured executive.

Upper management wanted payroll lowered by $50 million for 2024. Preller traded away Juan Soto and Matt Carpenter to meet their demands. The moves helped compensate for the Padres' regional TV revenue losses ($60 million) associated with Bally Sports' bankruptcy issues.

In short, Preller's had a long time to figure this out, and the Padres still haven't gotten it together. Could he be gone after the 2024 season?

3 AJ Preller decisions that could seal his fate with Padres after 2024

Hiring Mike Shildt and discarding Bob Melvin

Since firing Bud Black on June 15, 2015, Preller has hired four managers (Andy Green, Jayce Tingler, Bob Melvin, and Mike Shidt) and named three interim managers (Dave Roberts, Pat Murphy, and Rod Barajas). He felt another managerial change was necessary to offer a new voice that will hopefully make an impact inside the locker room.

In Melvin’s first season as Padres manager, the team appeared to be trending upward. They acquired Soto from the Washington Nationals and punched their ticket to the postseason. The Friars secured a divisional series win over the Los Angeles Dodgers before losing to the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS.

But things turned ugly last season as the Padres struggled with a disappointing 82-80 record. Melvin has to take some responsibility for the team's underachievement. The deteriorating relationship between him and Preller led to Melvin parting ways and becoming the San Francisco Giants manager this past offseason.

New Padres manager Mike Shildt has the difficult task of taking a roster (minus Soto and more) into battle in one of baseball’s toughest divisions. It is fair to place the Friars behind the Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks in the chase for a postseason berth.

But Shildt understands the pressure of winning, as it is never easy to succeed with high expectations. The manager has to deal with the daily media scrutiny while attempting to keep everyone on the roster happy with their playing time. Winning should be fun, but their role in achieving lofty goals can be a thankless job.

Last season's failures have put pressure on Shildt to succeed in 2024. His job performance will be judged on how well the Padres compete against other contending teams. Shildt believes communicating with his players will put them in a good place to bounce back and play winning baseball.

Preller hopes to have selected the right managerial choice that forges a partnership beyond this season, especially given Melvin's stature in the baseball world.