A.J. Preller: Padres’ core of players can win World Series, but some pieces needed


CARLSBAD, Calif. – The dust has barely settled on the Atlanta Braves’ World Series title, but Padres general manager A.J. Preller already is laying the foundation for what to expect in San Diego next season.

New San Diego Padres baseball team manager Bob Melvin speaks during an introductory press conference Monday, Nov. 1, 2021, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Derrick Tuskan)

“We feel like we’ve got a team and core here that can win a World Series,” Preller said Wednesday at Major League Baseball’s GM meetings in Carlsbad. “It’s probably going to be like adding the right piece or two to that talented core.”

Following an epic collapse that saw the team fall from playoff contention, the Friars’ first order of business was finding a replacement to fired manager Jayce Tingler. They’ve already done that in hiring veteran skipper Bob Melvin, nabbing him from the Oakland A’s with a three-year deal.

Melvin was introduced by the team in a press conference held earlier this month at Petco Park.

“He brings a ton of experience,” Preller said. “I think coming from the (American) League is good, too. He’s seen those players from a different perspective. We’ll definitely rely and lean on that.”

Melvin, who finished as the winningest manager in A’s history, is the fifth manager Preller has hired since taking over the club as general manager in 2014.

But even with an experienced voice in the dugout, several questions remain in terms of the composition of the roster. Namely, the team must decide what to do with first baseman Eric Hosmer and his pricey contract that runs through his age-35 season in 2025.

Preller said the team had discussions near baseball’s trade deadline about what to do with the former All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner.

“Ultimately at the deadline, we made the decision that our best team and our organization going forward is having Eric (Hosmer) as our first baseman,” he said.

Preller attempted to move Hosmer once at the trade deadline with little success.

“Nothing changed in the last couple months from my standpoint,” he said. “We’ll see where the offseason takes us and what the next couple of weeks look like.”

Another area of focus for the team is pitching. The Padres’ 36-year-old All-Star closer Mark Melancon is entering free agency this winter.

It has led to discussions about slotting right-handed starter Dinelson Lamet into that role, Preller said.

“The biggest thing for us is seeing (Lamet) get back to what we saw from him the past few seasons, especially the 2020 season,” he said. “We’ll make that decision from there. Our belief is seeing our starters go deep into a ballgame.”

San Diego Padres starting pitcher Dinelson Lamet works against a Milwaukee Brewers batter during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 21, 2021, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Additionally, starter Joe Musgrove is entering the final year of his contract in San Diego. Musgrove, the East County native who turns 29 in December, had a standout year on the bump and won the hearts of local fans after firing off the first no-hitter in franchise history in April against the Texas Rangers.

Preller said both sides are interested in keeping Musgrove home in America’s Finest City.

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