A.J. Preller’s Strategy for Hiring a New Manager

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A general manager with an unorthodox strategy for hiring talent is at it again with his latest installation for obtaining the right manager. Sometimes big moves are required for long-term success but with San Diego, so many long-term moves have been made which begs the question: what is Preller’s next move?

Prior Experience Not Required

In my last article, I wrote about former managers most likely to be interviewed for San Diego’s vacant position but recent news suggests that less than a handful of them will be interviewed. Since Preller became the general manager and executive vice president in the 2014 season, he hasn’t done too much to prove he can create a winning culture for this team. He has one winning season in seven years with the Padres due to his strategy for hiring rookie managers to lead the team and overspending way too much of Peter Seidler’s money. He has already committed $116 million in contracts through 2023 and another $66 million through 2025, one of the highest spending averages in the league.

Speculation has grown around MLB citing the fact that Preller will be looking for another rookie manager to lead the Friars, a strategy that has seen former rookie managers Andy Green and Jayce Tingler get the boot. His recent inquiries for a new manager include one former player working as a college coach, multiple former players working for MLB clubs, and one longtime player working in television. Clearly, he is trying to have history repeat itself with little regard to the fact that he could lose his job if this type of hiring doesn’t pan out. Another surprising move has come in the form of interviewing former manager Mike Shildt who was just let go from St. Louis after making the postseason in all three years at the helm.

I’m not shocked that he has yet to reach out to high-caliber managers like Buck Showalter, Bruce Bouchy, or Ron Washington. The latter is heading to the World Series with Atlanta right now so it’s understandable that he hasn’t been in contact with the team but seriously, what is preventing him from getting the right manager? Whether it’s his inability to stray away from a losing strategy or just the fact that he’s trying to continue to prove himself, it’s not working the way that fans and executives have been hoping for. If I’m upper management in this system, I’m potentially looking at letting Preller go one more season and then releasing him if his moves turn into wastes of money.

What Lies Ahead

Since there’s no real rush to sign a new manager right now, sources close to Preller and Seidler stated that a new manager would not likely be hired until the end of October. Given the Tingler hiring seemed rushed and too quick of a move, Preller is apparently planning on keeping this new hiring process secret so as to not give away too much to the media while simultaneously being thorough with who he’s assigning. Another emerging name from this bottomless hat is that of the longtime former manager of the Los Angeles Angels, Mike Scioscia. Scioscia oversaw the Halos from 2000-2018 and helped end the team’s 16-year playoff drought by winning the World Series in 2002.

With a fine name like Scioscia’s being mentioned, the drawing for their new manager just got that much more complicated. Thinking about all of these candidates could give you a headache when you analyze it but for Preller, he seems to be balancing them just fine. The one quality that Preller seems to be looking for the most is being on the same page about how to run a baseball team properly which is why Brad Ausmus was in the running back in 2019. A decision this big with a multitude of names like Bochy, Showalter, and now Scioscia in the mix could be the difference between employment and unemployment for A.J. Preller.

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