SAN DIEGO — A.J. Preller, you’re on the clock.
With less than 48 hours to go until the Trade Deadline, the Padres — perceived by many around the sport to be one of the most active teams on the market — have yet to make a move.
Get ready for a cram session. Preller, the Padres’ president of baseball operations, should have a busy couple of days ahead of Tuesday’s 3 p.m. PT Deadline. Consider where things stand as of Sunday afternoon:
The Padres beat the Twins, 3-2, to take the weekend series in their finale at Petco Park. It’s a win that moves San Diego 11 games above .500, clinging to a 1 1/2-game cushion in a tight race for the final two Wild Card spots. In other words, the Padres are in the precise position where it makes the most sense to bolster their roster as soon as possible.
Consider that roster, too. It features a handful of the elite, championship-caliber pieces you’d expect on a team that might play deep into October. But it also has a number of serious flaws, the types of flaws that need to be addressed by a club with lofty aspirations. The Padres haven’t hit for enough power. Their lineup isn’t quite deep enough. Their bullpen, lately, has been unreliable.
And, so, here we are, roughly two days to go before the Padres will no longer have a meaningful avenue to address the flaws on that roster. It’s time for Preller and Co. to get to work.
In the meantime, after Sunday’s victory, manager Bob Melvin did his best to downplay any trade speculation.
“I try not to focus too much on that,” Melvin said. “The guys that we have are the guys that I feel like we’re going forward with. If something changes, then great, if we make a big move or make subtle moves to enhance our roster.”
Still, it was somewhat of an acknowledgement that, yes, there’s a good chance the Padres will be looking to make moves. Whether those moves are “big” or “subtle” remains to be seen.
If the Padres were to land either of those two All-Stars, it would qualify as a coup for an offense that could use some thump.
“There’s a lot more chatter,” Melvin said, comparing his time in San Diego to past Deadlines when he managed the A’s. “Obviously not only has A.J. made trades before — [but] he’s made huge trades before.”
It’s an astute observation. In August 2020, Preller swung a series of major deals — six trades in the span of 72 hours leading up to the Deadline. Those moves helped the Padres reach the postseason for the first time in 14 years. Then, Preller was back at it during the offseason, swinging deals to acquire Yu Darvish, Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove.
At the 2021 Deadline, things changed. The Padres, despite their obvious need, didn’t address their rotation deficit. They made a few other minor moves, but their overall inactivity cost them dearly, as they collapsed down the stretch.
Based on recent history — and Preller’s nature — it should be a busy Deadline. But even if the Padres swing a deal for one of those big bats, they might not stop there.
They have other areas to address on their roster, namely the bullpen. It’s currently without a reliable closer, though Luis García looked sharp on Sunday afternoon in his first crack at the role. He pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning, nailing down the Padres’ first save opportunity since Taylor Rogers lost the job with a handful of recent shaky performances.
“We’re just worried about winning games,” said third baseman Manny Machado. “You control the things you can control. Go out there, try to win the game, like we did today. Continue to do that today, and then the next day and the next day. We have a goal here, and that’s not going to change.”
No, the goal won’t change in the next two days. But — with some shrewd Deadline dealing — the Padres’ chances of achieving that goal might still change drastically.