Preller may have been reticent to deal with other teams, but he was aggressive in his direct dealings with players. He signed, re-signed or extended 17 players to big league contracts since the end of the 2022 postseason, 15 of whom have made major league contributions.
The point of that activity was to buttress the talent base already on hand and hone the San Diego Padres roster to something approaching a powerhouse. The additions included Xander Bogaerts, Nelson Cruz, Michael Wacha, along with the extensions given to rotation starters Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove.
That all looked good on paper … until life intervened. Wacha (+1.0 WAA) and Bogaerts (+0.6) have been legit contributors. But Cruz (-0.6 WAA, .250, five home runs) has been a disappointment, Darvish (-0.5 WAA with a 5-6 record and 4.84 ERA) is having a bad year, and free agent signee Matt Carpenter (-0.9 WAA, .182) hasn’t hit either.
Collectively, the return on all the millions Preller spent lining up those additions and retentions amounts to -1.1 WAA. If you want to know why the Padres are not winning as often as anticipated, that list of free agent signees is a good place to start.
At least Preller made one or two good open market calls. He walked away from Jurickson Profar, who was picked up by Colorado in March and has been a disaster there. Preller rightly gave up on Wil Myers, released to be signed by the Reds, where he lasted two months before being shown the door.