AJ Preller’s Time in San Diego is Expiring

Where does one even begin when discussing longtime San Diego Padres GM and President of Baseball Operations AJ Preller? He has had close to a decade of service in the organization now, and the team hasn’t had one season with 90+ wins. This includes a string of 7 straight sub .500 seasons (excluding the shortened 2020 season) beginning in 2014, the year that AJ was handed head duties.

Prime talent has been stripped from the organization year after year, including notable all-stars Emmanuel Clase, Trea Turner, Ty France, Craig Kimbrel and Max Fried, as well as young stars CJ Abrams, Andrés Munoz, Josh Naylor and others. Each of them has left on AJ’s watch, and the majority of the list did not net the Padres any currently valuable pieces when traded away.

San Diego has cycled through 3 managers during AJ’s time in San Diego. In each hire, "not getting the job done" is never a comment that Preller feels obligated to respond to. The manager always ends up as the scapegoat. Andy Green was first up, then Jayce Tingler.

And when neither worked out, it was onto Bob Melvin. Melvin, a 2-time Manager of the Year as part of the Oakland Athletics, has not been able to mask the organizational flaws and bring it all together in the way that many hoped he would.

There have been talks of AJ Preller hiring the fourth manager in his tenure and letting him do so would be a highly questionable decision by ownership. At this point in time, with the terrorizing season the Padres have had in 2023 and in many seasons previously, how much of the overall blame can fall on the manager?

The issues stemming from a lack of player development and the lackluster performance of talented individuals on the big-league ball club are out of Melvin’s control. He is given a star-studded lineup card to fill out on a daily basis and does so in an agreeable fashion.

Once that is done, as odd as it may seem, most of the game and its outcome is out of his hands. Meaning, the majority of the team’s flaws can be pointed towards much higher up in the organizational pyramid.

AJ Preller has constructed an extremely top-heavy roster, allocating the majority of the team’s payroll to a small sum of players as opposed to the more balanced approach. When one man goes down, more times than not there isn't a decent option ready or worthy enough to fill in.

Late into the 2021 season, starting pitchers Joe Musgrove, Blake Snell, and Dinelson Lamet all went down with injury at different points. Due to the thin rotational depth on the active roster and in the minor league system, waiver claims had to be made for 6+ ERA veterans Jake Arrieta and Vince Velasquez, ultimately contributing to the season derailing and the Padres missing out on the postseason yet again.

Compare that scenario with the Los Angeles Dodgers, a team that typically has no trouble replacing a key injured player on the roster due to a strong ability to develop deep into the minor leagues.

Additionally, AJ has handed out an absurd amount of luxury contracts that no other GM in baseball has come remotely close to surpassing. Yu Darvish, Manny Machado, and Xander Bogaerts have all been handed ludicrous contracts that last into their early 40’s.

Meaning, each of them will become extreme burdens to the team’s salary flexibility long term when they experience a dip in production that comes from aging. The Padres will look back on those contracts six to ten years from now and become very regretful. The face behind the majority of that regret is AJ Preller.

AJ Preller gave 30-year-old SS Xander Bogaerts an 11 year- $280 million contract in December. To illustrate his unfathomable approach of signing players, Xander’s previous team the Boston Red Sox would not even offer their former player $100 million less than the Padres offered.

This season, Bogaerts has gifted the Padres the lowest AVG, OBP, SLG, OPS, 2B, RBI, and R in his last 9 career seasons. The scariest part is that those numbers may only continue to decline over his final 10 seasons.

Some outside executives around the MLB believe that a major issue with AJ Preller’s baseball philosophy is that he tends to not allocate enough money towards scouting, position coaching, and analytics. These are unnoticed parts of the game that prove to be extremely influential towards team success.

The Rays and Giants have moved towards a more analytical style of coaching and play, part of the explanation for both teams consistently getting maximum production out of undervalued players.

The bottom line is that AJ Preller has allowed for an underwhelming product to be placed on the field year after year, and this is the year that changes must be made. Fans were tricked into thinking that 2023 would be different from all the rest, when in reality this season can be considered the most disappointing one in MLB history.

A team with sky-high hopes will miss out on the postseason. A beautiful baseball city, 40,000 fans strong selling out a dazzling Petco Park nightly, a $251 million payroll, a plethora of superstars, but an unsustainable form of management at the top that mutes every drop of excitement. Enough is enough.

This FanPost was written by a member of the Gaslamp Ball community and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gaslamp Ball staff or SB Nation.