Hiring Of Preller Also Brings Out News Of Past Suspension

The Padres’ hiring of new general manager A.J. Preller also brought out news of past discipline for him and his former team.

Preller, whom the Padres hired as their new GM on Thursday, was suspended by Major League Baseball while he was running the Rangers' international operations. The club was also disciplined. Neither MLB nor the Rangers or any team officials have commented on the specifics of the allegations or the punishment.

A.J. Preller, left, with Omar Minaya (Photo by Bill Mitchell).

A.J. Preller, left, with Omar Minaya (Photo by Bill Mitchell).

Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler acknowledged that Preller had been suspended while with the Rangers, according to a report from ESPN's Buster Olney, and that the Padres had discussed the matter with MLB. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that Preller received an initial three-month suspension that was reduced to one month after the Rangers appealed.

The commissioner's office never announced the suspension publicly and has declined comment, other than to say it did discuss the situation with the Padres. Preller declined to comment, and a Padres spokesman said the club would have nothing else to say.

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels downplayed the charges against Preller, saying the disciplinary action stemmed from an incident several years ago.

"The crux of it was we were accused of talking to an agent, a buscon, about signing a player that was serving an age/identity suspension," Daniels said. "We never agreed to anything, we never signed anything, but when (the player is) on suspension you’re not allowed to sign a player. We were accused of engaging in negotiations with the buscon about a suspended player during the period he was suspended. It was investigated, there was some discipline to the club involved. I’m surprised it’s as big a deal as it’s being made now."

Daniels said the team also paid a fine of less than $100,000; Rosenthal reported the fine as $50,000. Daniels declined to comment on the player involved or to elaborate on the specific penalties Preller and the organization faced.

However, it's believed the incident involved Dominican righthander Rafael DePaula, whom MLB suspended in 2009 for presenting a false age. DePaula became eligible to sign again on Jan. 7, 2010, then in June 2010 came forward with a new age one year older than he had previously presented. He signed with the Yankees for $500,000 in November 2010, with MLB ruling his age as “undetermined.”

In a curious twist, Preller now has DePaula on his roster, after the Yankees sent DePaula and Yangervis Solarte to the Padres last month in the trade for Chase Headley just before Preller's hire.

Negotiating with a suspended player or agreeing to terms is against major league rules but is common practice in Latin America. Sources with knowledge of DePaula's case have said MLB did investigate the Rangers with regards to DePaula, but that the allegations against the team involved more than simply negotiating with an ineligible player and extended to the process they went through to try to sign the player.