After the Padres game on Monday, I decided to give the Darren Smith show a little listen. They talked briefly about the next Padres GM. Darren had a burrito bet with Marty Caswell about when the GM would be announced. Marty had one guess that came before the trading deadline and Darren Smith countered that would not happen and that he had heard the announcement, if the front office already knew who they wanted, would come early next week. Smith went a little farther tweeting this today:
I'd bet my money on A.J. Preller being named the next #Padres GM. Announcement likely next week.— Darren Smith (@DSmithShow) August 1, 2014
While this is by no means hard evidence, my gut tells me that Smith is dead on here. The rumor mill has been pointing at A.J. Preller over the other candidates for a while. Here is a tweet by the Union Tribune's Dennis Lin calling Preller the favorite back on July 21st:
Hearing A.J. Preller has become the favorite to land the Padres' GM job.— Dennis Lin (@dennistlin) July 23, 2014
On the same day, Peter Gammons elaborated as to why Preller was being considered a favorite:
Padres diligent GM search smartly has emphasized international scouting, which some feel may lead them to AJ Preller— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) July 21, 2014
Here was a tweet from Fox Sports San Diego and Bleacher Report's Scott Miller from about a week ago:
A few days after that, the San Diego Union Tribune's Tom Krasovic also called Preller the favorite:
Although, that could just be a regurgitation of Lin and Miller's comments. Bleacher Report's Will Carroll also mentioned Miller's comment:
As @ScottMillerBbl said, Preller favorite for Padres job. Expect announcement just after trade deadline.— Will Carroll (@injuryexpert) July 26, 2014
The way that he references it seems to me that he may have checked on the information. I say that because he is not crediting Miller, but instead seems to be affirming his report of Preller as the favorite.
It is still all just speculation, but it is telling that it seems to be the only speculation. There are no other candidates that have these sort of rumors floating around on the interwebs. Given that the Padres finished their candidate interviews days ago and most would agree that hiring so close to the deadline would not be beneficial, they likely have known who they wanted (and perhaps even the candidate secretly knows) and it's hard to keep a secret like that under wraps.
Going back to the Gammons tweet about international scouting, it makes sense that the Padres brass would value this. The Padres need to bring in young talent. The need it now, in the future and in the future's future. It's the lifeblood of a lower revenue club. The draft is now structured so that there is nowhere near as much wiggle room. Everybody scouts everybody that will be in the draft and every draft pick has restrictions about how much money you can pay the prospect. There does not seem to be a way to get a big advantage. In international scouting, there is no way that everybody scouts everybody. There are gems to be unearthed. There are indeed restrictions on how much you can pay for players, but if you find players that you like better than other teams you don't have to throw big money at them and thus have more money to spend on more players you like. That is my theory anyway. So, if ownership sees that as an opportunity and Preller is the candidate that can best exploit it, then it makes sense that he is their choice.