10. A.J. Preller, 2020, +4.6 (24-19-6)
Preller is recognized as one of the current game’s most prolific and most productive acquirers of talent in direct deals with other teams. Statistically, there is no finer illustration of this than his work leading up to and during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
Preller acquired 18 players that season who accumulated time on the Padres’ big league roster, and the collective value of those 18 (as measured by WAA) was +3.3 games to Preller’s credit.
He enhanced the value of those trades, sales or claims by improving the Padres another 2.6 games via the players he exchanged.
That makes Preller’s net impact on the 2020 Padres in trades alone +5.9 games. Since Preller’s tenure as general manager began, that’s his best score in direct negotiations with other teams.
Preller’s most productive that off-season took place in November of 2019. He sent three players to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for outfielder Trent Grisham (+1.6 WAA) and pitcher Zach Davies (+1.1).
Grisham batted .251 in regular duty and became an exceptional defensive outfielder. Davies went 7-4 in a dozen starts with a 2.73 ERA.
The other noteworthy trade went largely unnoticed at the time. In December of 2019, Preller sent Hunter Renfroe, Esteban Quiroz and Xavier Edwards to the Tampa Bay Rays for Tommy Pham (-0.6) and a little known minor leaguer named Jake Cronenworth (+1.1). Given a chance in San Diego, Cronenworth hit .285 as a rookie second baseman, blossoming into a regular..
Preller’s various trades cost him 13 players off the Padres’ 2019 roster, of whom Renfroe was one of the best known. But 10 of those 13 produced negative value for their 2020 teams; Preller knew what he was doing.