In an era when general managers can come from many different backgrounds, the Padres' hiring of Rangers assistant general manager A.J. Preller is in many ways a throwback to the days when scouting acumen was considered one of the prime requirements of the job.
Preller, 36, didn't play professional baseball, so in that matter, he's more of the new guard of Ivy League educated GMs—Preller graduated from Cornell. But since he jumped from the MLB front office to the Dodgers in 2001, Preller has been heavily involved in scouting and player evaluation.
The Padres are expected to officially announce Preller's hire at a 7 p.m. EST press conference. Multiple media sources are reporting that Preller has agreed to terms. Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal first reported the deal.
Preller's three years with the Dodgers involved working in pro and amateur scouting as the club's assistant for baseball operations. After joining the Rangers in 2004, Preller has played a part in nearly all areas of scouting for the Rangers. He has worked on the draft, trades, and the club's international scouting and acquisitions that have included Jurickson Profar, Yu Darvish and Rougned Odor. Preller joined the Rangers as its manager of pro/international scouting and quickly moved up to higher-profile duties. He served as the club's senior director for player personnel from 2010-2013 and was promoted to assistant general manager last year.
Preller takes over a Padres club that has posted one winning season in the past seven years. Along the way, the club's front office stability has suffered as well.
From 1996 to 2009, Kevin Towers was the Padres' general manager. But since Towers was fired in 2009, the club has gone through two GMs in the past five seasons. Towers' replacement, Jed Hoyer, left to join the Cubs in 2011, and his replacement, Josh Byrnes, lasted only two and a half years before he was fired this season.
Preller inherits a club with a woeful offense–only one regular this season has posted even a league-average OPS (Seth Smith) and the club ranks dead last in the National League in runs scored, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
San Diego does have some prospect depth with a large number of solid if unspectacular pitching prospects and a few top-notch position prospects such as catcher Austin Hedges.