Pollis: The predictable aggressiveness of a first-year GM

From SABR member Lewie Pollis at Baseball Prospectus on December 22, 2014:

We’re still not even to Christmas, but already several teams have made strong plays for the honor of “most interesting offseason.” You could make a good case for the Dodgers, who gave their front office a potentially highly symbolic reboot before embarking on a spree of high-profile wheeling and dealing. There’s the Marlins, who signed Giancarlo Stanton to the largest contract in the history of professional sports and appear to be making good on their promise to surround him with talent. Either Chicago team would qualify after marquee acquisitions that signal both teams are forcing open their respective windows of contention. And then there’s the Athletics, whose offseason moves would be a fascinating subject even without the inevitable Moneyball-induced paranoia that there’s another side to their deals that no one else sees yet.

I acknowledge that this is probably recency bias talking, but my vote right now would be for the Padres. If you somehow missed the news, San Diego has been insanely busy the past few days. The big headline is the Padres’ brand new trio of potential star-caliber starting outfielders: Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, and Justin Upton. They’ve also acquired or are rumored to be close to acquiring Josh Johnson, Brandon Morrow, and Will Middlebrooks—and they still might not be done. Whatever you think of the specifics of each move, you have to admire the gusto with which new GM A.J. Preller is going for it this winter.


But what puts San Diego over the top for me is that this spending spree has come totally out of left field (pun intended). As recently as a couple weeks ago the baseball world’s consensus was that the Padres were heading toward at least a soft reloading cycle. After all, they’d just come off their fourth straight losing season and reviews of their farm system, while positive, were lukewarm; it seemed a telling sign of the state of the organization that the Padres took the unusual step of firing their GM at midseason. Few teams felt like better bets to sell this winter than San Diego. Yet here we are, talking about the Padres as possible 2015 contenders.

It certainly came as a surprise. But then again, maybe Preller’s bold moves towards contention shouldn’t have been unexpected. Or, to be more precise, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that we’re surprised. Because with a little bit of quasi-economic thinking, it makes total sense that a team with a new GM would be the most surprisingly aggressive buyer in the league.

Read the full article here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=25242

Originally published: December 23, 2014. Last Updated: December 23, 2014.