SAN DIEGO (AP) — Manager Bob Melvin and general manager A.J. Preller appear to be safe in their jobs with the big-spending yet underwhelming San Diego Padres after owner Peter Seidler said in a statement Monday morning that the current leadership team “continues to have my full support.”
The announcement came less than 24 hours after the Padres finished the most disappointing season in franchise history at 82-80. They were eliminated from playoff contention on Friday night, a bitter result for a team that came into the season with World Series expectations after making a stirring run to the NL Championship Series last fall and then increasing their payroll to around $250 million, the third highest in baseball.
There have been reports of a fractured relationship between Melvin, who finished his second season with San Diego and 20th overall as a big league manager, and Preller, who has had just two winning records in a full season since being hired in August 2014. Additionally, multiple reports surfaced late in the season suggesting that the Padres are a dysfunctional organization under Preller and have a lack of clubhouse leadership and culture.
“We entered 2023 with expectations that we would build on last year’s NLCS appearance and contend for a World Series championship,” Seidler said in the statement. “We fell short of that goal. The Padres organization will learn from this season and emerge in 2024 with the pieces in place to compete for San Diego’s first World Series title.
“Our current leadership team continues to have my full support, and I have asked them to perform a thorough assessment of our organization, beginning today. We will make the changes necessary to play championship-caliber baseball for our extraordinary fans in 2024,” the statement concluded.
Seidler, who recently had an unspecified medical procedure, wasn’t available for further comment, the team said. Neither Melvin nor Preller immediately returned calls seeking comment.
Preller has long been a favorite of Seidler, a third-generation member of the O’Malley family that used to own the Dodgers. Seidler was part of a group that purchased the Padres in 2012 and bought out Ron Fowler’s majority stake in November 2020. Seidler supported Preller even after the GM was suspended for a month by MLB in September 2016 after its investigation revealed the Padres had withheld medical information from trade partners.
The Padres struggled offensively most of the season despite having a lineup anchored by stars Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., Juan Soto and Xander Bogaerts.
It took a strong run during the final 2 1/2 weeks, mostly against four of the worst teams in the majors — including three 100-loss teams — for the Padres to get back above .500 for the first time since early May.
Melvin has one year left on the three-year deal he signed when he was hired away from the Oakland Athletics on Nov. 1, 2021. He had one year left on his deal with the A’s but was allowed to interview with the Padres and leave without Oakland receiving compensation.
Melvin has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Gabe Kapler, who was fired by the San Francisco Giants on Friday. Melvin grew up in the Bay Area, played at California, spent three years with the Giants during his 10-year big league playing career and then managed the A’s for 11 years. He’s been voted Manager of the Year three times, including in both leagues.
Asked Sunday if he expected to be back in 2024, Melvin said: “You know what, I’m under contract here next year and that’s the only thing I’m thinking about right now.”
Just because there were no changes made Monday doesn’t mean there won’t be some in the future. After the 2006 season, manager Bruce Bochy was essentially pushed out when then-CEO Sandy Alderson urged him to apply for the vacant Giants job despite still having a year left on his contract with the Padres. The Giants hired Bochy, who led them to three World Series titles between 2010 and 2014.
The Padres have never won a World Series and haven’t been to the Fall Classic since 1998.
It took three days after the 2021 season for the Padres to fire Jayce Tingler following a brutal September collapse that cost the Padres a playoff spot. Tingler, a friend of Preller’s from when they were both in the Texas Rangers organization, lasted only two seasons. He replaced Andy Green, who was fired after the Padres collapsed down the stretch in 2019.
With Seidler’s blessing, Preller gave Machado a new $350 million, 11-year deal in spring training, just weeks after the slugger said he planned to opt out of the original $300 million, 10-year deal he signed in 2019. Preller gave Tatis a $340 million, 14-year deal in 2021 and signed Bogaerts to a $280 million, 11-year deal in December.
Soto, who had a strong finish at the plate and played in all 162 games, has a year left on his contract and the Padres will have to decide at some point whether to trade him or attempt to sign him to a long-term deal.
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