Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press
MLB suspended San Diego Padres general manager A.J. Preller on Thursday for 30 days, per Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reported earlier in the day members of San Diego’s front office could face punishment for failing to properly disclose players’ medical information when negotiating trades with other teams.
In a statement on MLB.com, the league cited the July trade that sent pitcher Drew Pomeranz to the Boston Red Sox:
Major League Baseball has completed an investigation into the July 14th transaction in which [Pomeranz] was traded from the San Diego Padres to the Boston Red Sox. MLB’s Department of Investigations conducted the thorough review, which included interviews with relevant individuals from both Clubs. The findings were submitted to Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr.
As a result of this matter, Major League Baseball announced today that A.J. Preller, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Padres, has received a 30-day suspension without pay.
MLB considers the matter closed and will have no further comment.
The Padres released the following statements after the announcement:
The #Padres have released the following statements in response to the findings of MLB’s investigation: pic.twitter.com/YI1NCBUPDw
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) September 15, 2016
According to Olney, the Red Sox, along with the Miami Marlins and Chicago White Sox, complained about potential deception by the Padres.
Olney explained that MLB teams are supposed to log any medical information about a player into the Athlete Health Management System (formerly known as Sutton Medical System). The database is then used by other teams interested in trading for a certain player. The Padres, however, used a separate database in addition to the Sutton Medical System to gain a competitive edge:
The athletic trainers were told to post the details of any disabled-list-related medical situations on MLB’s central system, but they also were instructed to keep the specifics about preventive treatments only on the Padres’ internal notes. One source defined the distinction in this way: If a player was treated for a sore hamstring or shoulder without being placed on the disabled list, that sort of information was to be kept in-house, for use within the organization only.
According to the two sources with direct knowledge of the meetings, the athletic trainers were told that by splitting the medical files into two categories, the Padres would benefit in trade discussions.
After going 8-7 with a 2.47 ERA in 17 starts with San Diego this year, Pomeranz was 2-5 with a 4.60 ERA in 11 starts in Boston entering Thursday. His FIP has also climbed over a full run (4.81) from his half-season with the Padres (3.14), per Baseball-Reference.com.
“Sources within the Boston organization say it wasn’t until after the deal was made that they became aware of some of the preventive measures that had been provided for Pomeranz,” Olney wrote.
Colin Rea is a more clear-cut case of the Padres’ strategy backfiring. San Diego agreed to a deal with the Miami Marlins on July 29, which sent Rea and Andrew Cashner to South Florida. Days later, the Marlins traded Rea back to the Padres in exchange for pitching prospect Luis Castillo.
Rea exited his only start with the Marlins on July 30 with right elbow soreness and hasn’t pitched since.
It’s not a stretch to say Preller’s job could be in jeopardy.
Hardball Talk’s Craig Calcaterra highlighted one potential problem the GM will face going forward:
30 days without pay is something Preller can handle I imagine. Having 29 GMs not trusting him at all is a greater penalty on the Padres.
— Craig Calcaterra (@craigcalcaterra) September 15, 2016
Preller’s 30-day suspension comes on top of what has been an underwhelming two years with the team.
His initial strategy to turn the Padres into a World Series contender overnight failed, as almost all of his marquee moves were busts. San Diego gave up the farm to add Justin Upton, Craig Kimbrel, Derek Norris, Matt Kemp, B.J. Upton and Wil Myers.
In return, the team won 74 games in 2015 and had a 62-84 record this year entering Thursday. While Preller bolstered the minor league system by flipping Kimbrel and trading Pomeranz, few teams have a bleaker long-term outlook than San Diego.
If ownership was looking for any more pretext to consider firing Preller, the revelations about the Padres’ trade tactics could be the tipping point that results in his departure.