NL West GM rankings: No. 3 A.J. Preller, San Diego Padres president of baseball operations and general manager
Preller spent millions trying to set the Padres up to challenge the Dodgers for the NL West title. But his team collapsed over the final two months finished an unimpressive third, and got manager Jayce Tingler fired.
Having said that, Preller’s 2021 contribution turns out to be pretty decent. He had a positive impact both via his trades and his free agent decisions; only a desultory performance by the team’s rookie class undermined Preller’s overall score.
For the season, Preller made 40 moves impacting the major league roster, 17 of them positive, 19 negative and four neutral.
The attention-getters were the extension given shortstop Francisco Tatis Jr. and the acquisitions of pitchers Yu Darvish and Blake Snell from the Cubs and Rays respectively.
The following statement makes no judgment about either the length of the Tatis deal nor the amount the team will eventually pay him. In the short-term anyway, the Tatis extension was idiot-proof. Tatis hit a league-leading 42 home runs, had a .611 slugging average and piled up a 4.8 WAA.
Darvish came over with personal catcher Victor Caratini in exchange for pitcher Zach Davies and some minor leaguers. He made 30 starts, but was a shaky 8-11 with a 4.22 ERA good for a disappointing -0.1 WAA. Factor in the other guys and the Padres did “win” the trade, but by an uninspiring -1.3 to -2.3.
It was the same story with Snell, acquired for pitchers Francisco Mejia, Luis Patina and two minor leaguers. He made 27 starts but recorded only a 7-6 record, 4.20 ERA and +0.3 WAA. Considering all the parts of that deal, it may as well not have been made: the Padres won it by an inconsequential +0.3 to +0.2.