Padres president of baseball operations A.J. Preller addressed members of the media on Wednesday (including AJ Cassavell of MLB.com) to discuss his team’s disappointing performance in 2023 and what to expect from the offseason ahead. He confirmed that he will remain the club’s chief baseball executive going forward, and likewise, skipper Bob Melvin will remain at the helm in 2024. Preller also touched on the Padres’ farm system, a potential addition to the front office, and the possibility of an extension for superstar Juan Soto.
Considering that the Padres vastly underperformed this past season, it’s no surprise Preller and Melvin were on the hot seat. San Diego reached the NLCS in 2022, yet after a busy offseason in which the team spent over $400MM in free agency, they barely finished above .500 this year, falling two games shy of a postseason berth. The president of baseball ops didn’t deny how frustrating the 2023 season was, but he didn’t blame his manager for everything that went wrong. This comes two days after Padres chairman Peter Seidler expressed his complete support for the leaders running his team.
Said Preller, “Bob is our manager, and he’s going to be our manager going forward,” leaving no room for doubt that Melvin’s job is secure. However, the executive wouldn’t broach the subject of an extension – the manager is only under contract for one more year – instead emphasizing that both he and Melvin are focused on improving the current roster and getting the Padres back to the postseason in 2024. “Next year is going to be a different year,” he explained. “A different team, different players.”
While there won’t be a different manager or a different president of baseball operations, Preller said he has thought about possibly hiring a general manager. He has technically held both titles since he was promoted ahead of the 2021 season, but it has become quite common for teams to have a separate president of baseball ops and GM. Preller wouldn’t commit to making a hire, but he said he’d be open to adding a new executive “that brings different experiences” to the front office.
On the topic of reinforcements, Preller also addressed San Diego’s farm system, expressing confidence in the cohort of young players approaching the upper levels of the minors. He believes the team has several prospects who could make an impact sooner or later, especially as added depth. His remarks weren’t particularly revealing, but they were encouraging, given the sheer number of prospects the Padres have given up in recent trades, along with the draft picks they’ve lost by signing top free agents.
The executive wasn’t quite as confident about Juan Soto’s long-term future with the Padres. While he said his first move will be to discuss an extension with the three-time All-Star, he didn’t deny the possibility of trading the lefty slugger instead. “We’ve never been a group that says no to anything,” Preller explained. “I wouldn’t read into that. That’s just kind of the way we operate.” His comments suggest that no trade is imminent, but by not shutting down the question, he left the potentiality on the table.