A.J. Preller accepted the San Diego Padres’ offer to become their general manager, according to sources, leaving the Texas Rangers after 10 years and leaving a hole in their operation in Latin America.
Preller was one of two assistant GMs on Jon Daniels’ staff, a post he was given after last season. Though he didn’t have the assistant GM title for most of his stay with the Rangers, he was heavily involved in Latin America and oversaw amateur scouting.
He was one of Daniels’ confidants in a close-knit front office and also is one of Daniels’ closest friends going back to their days as fraternity brothers at Cornell.
“He’s done an amazing job here at the various departments he has run. I think, on a big-picture scale he’d be a tremendous hire as a GM,” Daniels said. “I think the world of him personally and professionally. I’m extremely happy for him and proud of him, and wish him all the best and success.”
The six-week process to hire Preller allowed the Rangers a chance to brace for potential losses to their front office and scouting staff. Daniels, though, said that strong restrictions will be implemented on how many Preller can hire away.
Don Welke, a special senior assistant to Daniels who has known Preller for more than a decade, and special assistant Scott Littlefield, one of the Rangers’ top scouts who lives in the San Diego area, were thought to be possible departures.
“I told him to keep his grubby hands off,” Daniels said. “That was a topic of conversation with San Diego throughout the process. In this case, with such a notable position and someone who has been here so long with unique relationships, there’s some strong restrictions on their ability to take anybody else.”
Robinson Chirinos hit his 10th and 11th home runs of the season Tuesday night. Anyone who had him second in homers on the Rangers this season should go buy lottery tickets.
Chirinos, though, said that he isn’t surprised. He has hit for power in the minors and in Venezuela while receiving steady playing time, so why not do it in the major leagues?
“I’m having a chance to play consistently in the majors,” Chirinos said. “I always believed in what I can do as a baseball player.”
As the Rangers slosh through the rest of the season, Chirinos continues to take advantage of his opportunity. He hasn’t turned himself into an everyday player for 2015, not yet at least, but he has proven that he can be a capable backup.
“To be honest, it’s something I don’t think about,” he said.
There are concerns about how consistent he can be at the plate. Despite the first multi-homer game of his career and a three-hit game, he entered Wednesday batting only .188 over his past 14 games and went 0 for 3 in the series finale.
But he has also shown an ability to develop. He has improved his throwing skills to the point where he is second in the majors in runners caught stealing and has the highest caught-stealing percentage in the American League.
A former infielder, Chirinos is still plagued by inexperience behind the plate and often won’t bend from the scouting report when a midgame adjustment is required.
Manager Ron Washington, though, said that Chirinos has had a great season as the Rangers have dealt with an injury to Geovany Soto and a free agency flop by J.P. Arencibia.
“He’s taken advantage of his opportunity,” Washington said. “He’s a tremendous student, and he wants to do well. He does his homework almost to a fault.”
Chirinos will see his playing time diminish as Soto returns Friday from the disabled list, but they are likely to split time evenly until Soto proves he is healthy.
“I know he can produce, and I know he can get pitchers through games,” Washington said. “We’ve got to see what Soto can do. I’m not going to take a tremendous amount of time from Robinson.”
The Rangers have two roster moves to make the next two days, and they are out of spots to put players. That might not be good news for catcher Chris Gimenez and right-hander Jerome Williams.
Both players are out of options, meaning they can’t go to the minor leagues without being exposed to waivers, and are extra players at their positions. The Rangers must do something with Gimenez on Thursday to bring him off the paternity list, and they will also need a roster spot Friday for Soto to come off the DL.
“The way the roster is constructed, it’s obvious that something has to happen,” Washington said.
The Rangers also could option outfielder Jim Adduci to Triple A, but the initial indications are that he will be safe, even though he and the recently acquired Mike Carp are both left-handed hitters who play the same positions.