PADRES 2015 Offseason News/Rumors

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  1. CardsShark

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    Padres trim manager list, move past 1st stage
    Reports indicate GM Preller has interviewed Gardenhire and Sofield a second time
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    GM A.J. Preller moved on to the second round of interviews for a new manager. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
    By Corey Brock / MLB.com | @FollowThePadres | 6:30 PM ET
    SAN DIEGO -- The Padres' ever-evolving search for a new manager has reached the second round, general manager A.J. Preller said on Tuesday morning.

    "I feel good about the number of guys we had in the initial stage, and now we'll be able to get that down to a smaller group," Preller said. "We're looking to push things forward."

    Preller, who won't say who the team has interviewed to this point, said the team finished the last of the interviews on Monday.

    "The last few days, we've talked to some guys we didn't have a chance to talk to the first few weeks. ... Guys who were involved in the postseason," Preller said.

    "We're starting to figure it out. We're looking to figure out who fits what we're looking for."

    That person was Dodgers bench coach Tim Wallach, the last of the candidates to get a first interview with the team.

    The Padres, who have officially been in search-mode since dismissing interim manager Pat Murphy one hour after the regular season ended on Oct. 4, have had their hands full with interviews the last three weeks.

    To date, the team has interviewed ESPN analyst Alex Cora, D-backs Minor League manager and former Padres third baseman Phil Nevin, Pirates third-base coach Rick Sofield, Angels assistant general manager Scott Servais (who was named manager of the Mariners), D-backs third-base coach Andy Green, Padres hitting coach Mark Kotsay, former Major League pitcher Tom Gordon and former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.

    Reports have indicated that Gardenhire and Sofield have had second interviews.

    And there might be more candidates, those as Preller said, were a part of teams who were recently involved in the postseason -- possibly the Cubs and Blue Jays.

    "We feel good. We're whittling it down," Preller said. "I think the overall process has been good. I think we've had good conversations with the initial list of guys.

    "We've had a wide-range group of candidates with different experiences. We've enjoyed the process of talking to those guys."
     
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    Dombrowski deals for now; Preller for future
    Kimbrel to bolster Boston bullpen; Padres improve depth in system

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    Kimbrel, Dombrowski on trade 1:52
    New Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel and Boston's president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski discuss the big trade with the Padres
    By Phil Rogers / MLB.com | @philgrogers | November 13th, 2015
    You didn't have to tell Dave Dombrowski how important it was to have a reliable closer. He always knew.

    Dombrowski gave Joe Nathan a fat contract just two years ago. Dombrowski just couldn't crack the code behind landing a hot hand for October while the Tigers were flirting with with a championship behind the Justin Verlander /Miguel Cabrera core.

    But it's OK, Tigers fans. Go ahead and scream. You've got it coming.

    Dombrowski has traded for a top-of-the-game closer, but unfortunately for Detroit fans, he's done it in his first autumn working out of a Fenway Park office.

    Some are going to say that Dombrowski overpaid for Craig Kimbrel, especially given the glaring hole atop the Boston rotation, which has been there since his predecessor, Ben Cherington, was unable to lock up Jon Lester. But Koji Uehara is 40 and recovering from a broken wrist, and Dombrowski has the same memories of Todd Jones, Fernando Rodney, Jose Valverde, Joaquin Benoit and an end-of-career Nathan as fans in Detroit, so he pulled the trigger and landed himself a four-time All-Star under control through 2018.

    At 27, Kimbrel is 12 years younger than Nathan was when Nathan signed with the Tigers. So, yes, Kimbrel is a guy who would have looked very good taking the ball from Verlander and Max Scherzer. Maybe the problem was that the Padres' A.J. Preller didn't become a general manager until 2014.

    So much for Preller's sophomore slump.

    It's easier to make a deal than it used to be, partly because of the parity in the game, partly because of the money in the game and especially because of the aggressiveness of go-for-the-jugular GMs like Preller.

    One year after driving one of the wildest Hot Stove markets seen in a decade or longer, the Padres' second-year GM is at it again. He opened business on Kimbrel at the GM Meetings earlier this week and brought it to a close Friday evening, landing outfielder Manuel Margot, shortstop Javier Guerra, infielder Carlos Asuaje and 18-year-old lefty Logan Allen in the deal.

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    Preller on trading Kimbrel
    Padres general manager A.J. Preller talks about his decision to trade closer Craig Kimbrel to the Red Sox for four prospects
    With the Reds also making closer Aroldis Chapman available, there have been a flurry of talks between teams this week on the relief front. The Padres had just traded Benoit to the Mariners for prospects on Thursday, giving a setup man a chance to return to the closer's role. Other teams in need of bullpen upgrades -- the Cubs and likely the Astros, Pirates and Tigers, among others -- explored the idea of trading for one of the top closers.

    There had to be at least one other team extensively engaged with the Padres on Kimbrel. Otherwise, the Red Sox would never have spent so heavily to get him.

    When Preller shocked the baseball world by getting Kimbrel from the Braves in the first week of the 2015 season, he sent right-hander Matt Wisler (who went 8-8 with a 4.71 ERA as a Braves rookie) and outfielders Cameron Maybin, Carlos Quentin and Jordan Paroubeck to Atlanta. The biggest part of the deal was taking on the contract of B.J. Upton, who was owed $46 million over three seasons.

    While 2015 didn't turn out as Preller hoped it would, he hedged his bet by also moving a $24 million commitment to the Braves with Maybin and Quentin, and he's restocked the Padres' farm system splendidly with the return for Kimbrel.

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    Callis on Padres' new prospects
    Jim Callis talks about Manuel Margot, Javier Guerra, Carlos Asuaje and Logan Allen, the prospects acquired by the Padres from the Red Sox
    Margot, an athletic center fielder who was ranked as the Red Sox's No. 3 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, held his own in Double-A as a 20-year-old and could push for a spot alongside Matt Kemp and Wil Myers in 2016. The other players aren't as close to being in San Diego, but Guerra is such a good two-way shortstop at age 20 that he'd likely be a top-3 pick in the Draft if he was attending Vanderbilt or TCU, and Asuaje had hit himself to Triple-A Pawtucket in his two pro seasons.

    Oh, then there's Allen. He's an 18-year-old lefty whose fastball has ramped up to 94 mph, which helped him hold his own in Rookie leagues after the Red Sox drafted him from the IMG Academy last June. He's a million miles away from Petco Park, but it's like landing an extra first- or second-round Draft pick (true, the Red Sox landed him in the eighth, but that was largely because he seemed headed to the University of South Carolina).

    This trade helps give the Padres some balance after Preller's blitzkrieg through the last Hot Stove season, which was designed to reignite baseball interest in San Diego. These are the kind of exciting players that fans can fall in love with, and this trade is probably a precursor of some others to come.

    The Kimbrel trade frees up money that can go toward filling the Padres' hole at shortstop. There have been some reports about an interest in free-agent shortstop Ian Desmond(Nationals), but you wonder if Preller might not prefer to deal Tyson Ross for Javier Baez, if the Cubs will make their power-hitting 22-year-old available. Preller is talking to other teams about his full inventory of players, including starting pitchers Andrew Cashner (a free agent after 2016), the widely sought Ross and James Shields. The Kimbrel trade was his third in a week, including one that landed second baseman Jose Pirela from the Yankees. He's probably not going to stop now.

    Neither will Dombrowski. The mandate in Boston is the same as it was for him in Detroit: Deliver a championship.

    Dombrowski's biggest statement could come in the free-agent market, as the Red Sox are expected to strongly pursue David Price and Johnny Cueto, and probably Zack Greinke, Jordan Zimmermann and Jeff Samardzija as well. But never rule out Dombrowski making sensational trades. He's done that everywhere he's been, and with the Kimbrel deal done, that includes Boston.
     
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    Open-minded Green embraces defensive shifts
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    Andy Green joins MLB Tonight 5:00
    Andy Green joins the crew live on MLB Tonight to talk about becoming the new manager of the Padres
    By Corey Brock / MLB.com | @FollowThePadres |
    SAN DIEGO -- There probably wasn't just one palpable separator that gave Andy Green the advantage over the rest of the field when it came time for the Padres to make a decision on their manager hire late last month.

    That said, there was one particular trait that resonated over and over again with Padres general manager A.J. Preller during his conversations with Green.

    "I think the biggest thing with Andy is he's open to ideas," Preller said. "Not just ideas, but he's open to thoughts and ideas. That was attractive, for sure."

    This wasn't just something that merely stood out in conversation, as Green, who spent last season as the third-base coach of the D-backs, has shown a proclivity for embracing new concepts and ideas, especially in terms of advanced metrics.

    It was Green who essentially spearheaded the D-backs' shifting efforts, the latest trend as teams continue to emphasize defense with the intent of saving a few -- and in some cases, more than that -- runs for a pitching staff.

    According to Baseball Information Solutions, the D-backs used 587 shifts on balls in play last season -- good for 10th in the big leagues, well behind the Rays, who shifted 1,462 times. That was far and away more than 2014 when the D-backs shifted just 252 times, which put them at 21st out of 30 big league teams.

    Consider this: The D-backs had the most defensive runs saved (71) in baseball -- by a wide margin. The Royals were second with 56. The Padres finished 26th with a minus-28.

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    Solarte starts double play
    8/30/15: The Padres turn an unusual double play with a heavy shift on as Yangervis Solarte fields a grounder and flips to second to start it
    One way BIS measures the effectiveness of shifts is through a metric called Shift Runs Saved, which is essentially similar to Defensive Runs Saved. In 2014, the D-backs had four Shift Runs Saved, but this past season that number jumped to 12, second-most in the National League.

    "I think, as a coaching staff, you have to recognize that not all information is great for players to receive," Green said. "You need actionable information; you need stuff that you're going to do something with. You don't want to inundate them with information. You have to be able to analyze it as a staff: Is this productive to give our players?"

    There are two components to shifting -- full and partial. A full shift will use three infielders on one side of second base, which is the general definition of a shift. A partial shift is more of a strong shade, like having two infielders on each side of second base but shaded to the pull side of the hitter.

    But Green didn't just employ shifting without taking into consideration how the D-backs' infielders and pitchers felt about it -- if they were going to buy into it.

    "I think there's a psychological impact to the shift. If you don't recognize what it does to a pitcher who is not completely on board, you're probably overvaluing what you would get out of the shift," Green said. "... People have to be on board with what you're doing.

    "For me, jamming stuff down people's throats and telling them how it's going to be, the psychological ramifications of that can be worse than what you might get out of the shift."

    As an organization, the Padres have increased their number of total shifts in each of the last three seasons, using 35 full shifts and 52 partial shifts in 2013. In 2014, it was 191 full shifts and 49 partial shifts. This past season, the team used 452 full shifts and 116 partial shifts.

    If nothing else, Green's openness and aptitude for new ideas and concepts made him attractive to Preller and the Padres.

    "He's open to any idea that's going to help a team, help an organization get better," Preller said. "He's not looking at any idea or a particular statistic as being gospel. I think that's something we share. You present an idea, he wants to hear it and then he wants to see how it works."

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    Gyorko's off-balance throw
    8/7/15: Jedd Gyorko secures a grounder playing in the shift in shallow right, then makes an off-balance throw to nab Ryan Howard at first
    Look for the Padres to continue to push forward with their shifting efforts in 2016 -- with a greater focus on better defensive play.

    "In me, there's a desire to take information from wherever you can get it to gain a competitive advantage. I'm open to anything," Green said. "I believe, to be successful going forward, we'll be open with our front office and be ready for any information that's going to come through the door. If it's usable, let's put it into practice and take advantage of it."
     
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    Padres meet with Japanese 3B Matsuda
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    Must C: Matsuda extends lead 1:43
    Nobuhiro Matsuda lifts a solo home run over the left-field wall for Samurai Japan, increasing their lead to 7-3 in the top of the 8th
    By Quinn Roberts / MLB.com | 4:53 PM ET
    Padres general manager A.J. Preller and director of player personnel Logan White have met with Japanese free-agent third baseman Nobuhiro Matsuda, according to multiple reports. The meeting took place this week while the two were on a scouting trip through Asia.

    The two sides didn't discuss contract details, but the Japanese star is reportedly interested in pursing a deal with a Major League club. As a free agent, no posting fee is needed for Matsuda.

    The 32-year-old hit a career-high 35 home runs with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks last season and had a career-high .357 on-base percentage.

    The Padres have plenty of options at third base. Yangervis Solarte got most of the playing time at the position last season and the team acquired utility infielders Jose Pirela and Carlos Asuaje in trades.

    Over 10 seasons in Japan, Matsuda is a career .277/.325/.477 hitter with 161 home runs and 577 RBIs in 1,064 Japan Pacific League games.

    Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
     
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    McGwire expected to be Padres' bench coach
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    Mark McGwire has served as the hitting coach for the Cardinals and Dodgers. (Christian Petersen/Getty)
    By Austin Laymance / MLB.com | 6:13 PM ET
    The Padres are reportedly expected to hire Mark McGwire as bench coach, according to CBS Sports. The club has not confirmed the report.

    McGwire, 52, would fill a position vacated when Dave Roberts was hired to manage the Dodgers.

    McGwire has never been a bench coach, but he has experience on a big league staff. He spent the last three seasons as the Dodgers' hitting coach before his contract expired at the end of October. McGwire previously was the hitting coach for the Cardinals for three years (2010-12) before joining the Dodgers.

    A native of Pomona, McGwire starred at USC before embarking on a 16-year big league career with the A's and the Cardinals. He hit 583 home runs, including 70 during the 1998 season.

    The Padres have a first-year manager in Andy Green, but have not officially announced any other additions to the coaching staff -- though pitching coach Darren Balsley and third-base coach Glenn Hoffman are returning.

    Last week, Astros assistant hitting coach Alan Zinter was hired as the Padres' hitting coach, sources told MLB.com's Corey Brock. Tarrik Brock will coach first base and former Padres pitcher Doug Bochtler will be the bullpen coach.

    "You always want to have guys who complement your [manager's] skill set. I don't look at it where it has to be someone who has to fit three or four experienced criteria, guys who have managed or coached before," said Padres general manager A.J. Preller last month.
     

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