Preller revamps Padres with series of blockbusters - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Preller revamps Padres with series of blockbusters

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SAN DIEGO (AP) - In a dizzying series of trades in just more than a week, new San Diego Padres general manager A.J. Preller has revamped the worst offense in the major leagues by adding Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, Justin Upton, Derek Norris and Will Middlebrooks.

Preller's wheeling and dealing isn't over yet, since he has a surplus of outfielders.

Preller was hired in August after developing a reputation as a hard-working, hard-charging scouting and player development executive with the Texas Rangers.

Since Dec. 11, Preller has displayed a win-now attitude by working a five-player deal with the division rival Los Angeles Dodgers to get Kemp; an 11-player deal with Tampa Bay and Washington to get Myers, the 2013 AL Rookie of the Year with the Rays; a multiple-player deal with Atlanta for Upton; a four-player trade with Oakland involving Norris; and a straight-up trade with Boston to get Middlebrooks for catcher Ryan Hanigan, who came over from Tampa Bay.

It's a stunning haul for a team that has had only two winning seasons since its last playoff appearance, in 2006.

Kemp and Upton are among the top power hitters.

Kemp was scheduled to be introduced at a news conference Friday. He had a strong second half in 2014 for the NL West champion Dodgers. He finished the season with a .287 average, 25 home runs and 89 RBIs. That deal, agreed to early the morning of Dec. 11 at the winter meetings in San Diego, was finalized Thursday night.

Upton, who will earn $14.5 million in the final year of his contract, had 29 homers and 102 RBIs last season. That deal has yet to be finalized.

Preller seems to be a later-day "Trader Jack" McKeon, just without the cigar. McKeon was general manager of the Padres when they went to the World Series in 1984, earning his nickname for his fondness for deals.

Padres President Mike Dee said Preller had the advantage of seeing the Padres for the final two months of 2014, when they rebounded enough from their awful first half to finish third in the NL West.

"He believes this team was competing last year," Dee said. "We were over .500 after the All-Star break. His view was, let's try to keep the core of our pitching staff intact, add some offense and let's make a run with this group and we can compete in 2015. That's exactly what we're doing. It's something our fans can be excited about."

Preller has managed to retain his top three starters and most top prospects.

In order, Preller has:

- obtained Kemp and catcher Tim Federowicz from the Dodgers for catcher Yasmani Grandal and right-handers Joe Wieland and Zach Eflin. Preller also got $32 million from the Dodgers to help defray the remaining $107 million on Kemp's deal. The Padres' obligation of $75 million to Kemp during the next five years becomes the biggest contract in club history.

- obtained Myers, Hanigan, left-handed pitcher Jose Castillo and right-handed pitcher Gerardo Reyes from the Tampa Bay Rays while sending catcher Rene Rivera, right-hander Burch Smith and infielder Jake Bauers to Tampa Bay, as well as right-hander Joe Ross and a player to be named later to Washington, expected to be shortstop Trea Turner, San Diego's first-round draft pick in 2014 . The Rays receive outfielder Steven Souza Jr. and left-hander Travis Ott from the Nationals. In the works for several days, that deal was finalized Friday morning.

- acquired Norris, an All-Star catcher, and minor league right-hander Seth Streich from Oakland on Thursday night for righties Jesse Hahn and R.J. Alvarez along with an international signing bonus slot.

- landed Upton from Atlanta for a group of prospects that could include lefty Max Fried, one of San Diego's top prospects.

- swapped Hanigan to the Boston Red Sox for Middlebrooks on Friday.

The Padres had a historically awful offense in the first half of 2014. Although they played better in the second half, they finished at the bottom of the majors with a .226 average, .292 on-base percentage and 535 runs. Their 109 homers were the second fewest in the baseball.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.
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