The Padres had a club record $90.1 million payroll last season, but the team currently projects to be around $89 million for 2015 even after a very active offseason from new general manager A.J. Preller. Part of this is because the Dodgers are paying the great majority of Matt Kemp’s salary for this season. However, they might not be done making moves.
Team chairman Ron Fowler recently indicated to Dennis Lin of UT-San Diego that Preller still has some wiggle room with his budget, which could push the payroll over $100 million:
In an email to the U-T, Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler confirmed a general payroll range for 2015: It will open above last season’s figure and could top out at a little more than $100 million.
Fowler added an important disclaimer: “However, with A.J. in the GM seat, things could change quickly. He continues to look at options to strengthen the team.”
First-year general manager A.J. Preller has landed an unprecedented haul of right-handed power, remaking baseball’s worst offense while keeping the pitching staff largely intact. Yet his most resourceful maneuvering occurred within the financial parameters of those deals; as of Feb. 5, the Padres’ payroll projects to open at roughly $89 million, a tick under the 2014 figure. (If a trade partner is found for Carlos Quentin, the club could trim a couple million or so.)
As for what could push the Padres over $100 million, many have begun to consider them the favorites to land free agent right-hander James Shields. They have also expressed interest in a trade for Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels. One non-pitcher possibility is Cuban second baseman Hector Olivera, who Preller recently scouted while in the Dominican Republic.
Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada has been in regulatory limbo for some time, unable to sign a deal with a big league team due to federal regulations, MLB regulations or both, but now that looks to be over:
Moncada has already worked out with multiple teams, so it may not take long for him to be signed. The Yankees and Red Sox are thought to be favorites. Moncada, 19, is expected to get a deal in the $30-40 million range.
According to Ben Badler of Baseball America, Cuban infielder Hector Olivera had a private workout with the Braves on Sunday morning in the Dominican Republic. Badler writes that Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez and assistant GM John Coppolella were both in attendance, along with a number of special assistants and the organization’s top two scouts.
Olivera is drawing a ton of major league interest after batting .316/.412/.474 during the 2013-2014 season in Cuba’s Serie Nacional. He turns 30 years old in April, but both contenders and rebuilders (like the Braves) are being connected to him. Olivera is expected to sign as a second or third baseman.
The Giants, A’s, Padres, Rangers, and Yankees are among the other teams with reported interest.