The Athletic’s Dennis Lin reported on Tuesday that the San Diego Padres are parting ways with farm director Sam Geaney, who oversaw the club’s farm system for seven seasons. Geaney’s contract was up at the end of the season and Preller notified Geaney that it wouldn’t be renewed for 2022. Geaney was the farm director throughout Fernando Tatis Jr.’s time in the minor leagues, so he has that success story to hang his hat on.
“Sam has done a very good job building one of the top farm systems in the game over the last 7 years. I’m proud of the work he has done developing both players and coaches,” Preller said in a text to Lin. “We feel confident that we have a group of player development staff who are prepared and ready to take on the continued challenge of being a top tier baseball development system.”
This move was likely made now just to get it out of the way so the Padres can replace him as early as possible once the season concludes. However, when this news came out, I couldn’t quite find the main reason why this move happened, as most of Geaney’s work didn’t get the chance to play in San Diego.
MacKenzie Gore’s lack of development was a problem
One thing Preller could point to is the development (or lack of development) of MacKenzie Gore, who used to be the top pitching prospect in baseball. There was an expectation that he’d be able to contribute to the major league roster at some point this season but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.
Gore started the minor league season in Triple-A, pitching to a 5.85 ERA through six starts in El Paso. But because his mechanics were out of sync, he was sent all the way back to Peoria for two months to make some adjustments. After simplifying his delivery, he pitched well in rookie ball before being put in Double-A, which is where he is right now.
I’m sure that Preller and/or Peter Seidler is frustrated that it took so long for the player development staff to get Gore to fix his mechanics. The fact that the Padres felt the need to sign Vince Velasquez and Jake Arrieta instead of promoting Gore doesn’t reflect well on the Padres development staff, which was obviously overseen by Geaney.
To be fair, though, Luis Campusano seems to have also simplified his hitting mechanics which has garnered him more success in Triple-A after his brief stay with the major league team earlier this season. Campusano is hitting .295 with 15 home runs this season in Triple-A.
Preller traded away a lot of Geaney’s work
Geaney’s boss is known to be someone who isn’t afraid to make a trade. When Preller has made trades over the past couple of years, it has been about getting back major league talent. But in order to get major league talent, Preller had to weaken Geaney’s farm system by trading away prospects that he developed.
Preller has acquired Trent Grisham, Blake Snell, Tommy Pham, Jake Cronenworth, Austin Nola, Austin Adams, Mike Clevinger, Emilio Pagan, and Joe Musgrove—among other deals—in the last couple of years. In those deals, the Padres traded away Luis Urias, Luis Patino, Blake Hunt, Cole Wilcox, Francisco Mejia, Xavier Edwards, Hunter Renfroe, Manuel Margot, Josh Naylor, Austin Hedges, Owen Miller, Cal Quantrill, Taylor Trammell, Ty France, and Andres Munoz, among others.
If Geaney and the organization hadn’t developed those prospects and young major leaguers, then they may have not matched up with the Rays, Indians, Mariners, and Brewers for deals. Urias, Patino, Margot, Naylor, Quantrill, and France have all played well at times for their teams. So, did Geaney do his job by developing them well? It looks like he did but most of his big-time prospects didn’t stay in the Padres organization.
Now, the farm system isn’t nearly as strong and it’s struggling to produce major league ready talent. Some of that may be on Geaney but some of that is also on Preller for trading away a lot of the minor league talent so that the Padres could improve (at least on paper) at the big league level.
This Geaney dismissal is going to be the first of many moves over the next couple of months after the team looks like they’ll be missing out on the postseason.