A.J. Preller: Padres’ Trades Were Necessary To Close Gap On Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers are in the midst of one of their most successful stretches in franchise history, having won eight consecutive National League West titles, three pennants since 2017 and the 2020 World Series.

The club is slated to return the majority of their championship core next season as they look to become the first team since the 1998-00 New York Yankees to win the World Series in back-to-back years.

One team that could pose the greatest challenge to that is the San Diego Padres, who have been on the rise for a few seasons now. They are coming off a successful 2020 campaign that saw them advance to the postseason for the first time in 14 years, only to be swept by the Dodgers in the NL Division Series.

Recognizing the need to close the gap, Padres general manager A.J. Preller has been one of the most aggressive executives this offseason, recently completing trades for Blake Snell and Yu Darvish, and signing KBO star Ha-Seong Kim.

Preller believes the splashy moves were necessary in order for the Padres to inch closer to the Dodgers’ level, via Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports:

“When we left Texas after losing the division series,” he said, “the biggest thing we had was we had to get better. You know, just go out and get better. That’s a club that I think in general we feel like, throughout the year we had a chance to measure ourselves against that team and they were the best team in the game last year. But ultimately, leaving there, we knew we had to tighten up some things and we had to get better overall.

“So, for us, it’s just about playing championship-level baseball. And what that looks like, we have a measuring stick in our own division. Leaving after the playoffs, we knew we had another couple steps we were going to have to get to if we want to be a team that can play on the big stage eventually.”

While Preller has put the Padres in a better position to compete with the Dodgers next season, he stopped short of deeming themselves the superior team.

L.A., meanwhile, figures to have some moves up their sleeves as well. The club still wants to add another high-leverage reliever and is among the teams reportedly pursuing Liam Hendriks.

The Dodgers also remain in contact with DJ LeMahieu, who could fill a need at third base should Justin Turner sign elsewhere, or perhaps be a solution at second base.

Friedman doesn’t feel need to “counterpunch” after Padres’ trades

With Snell and Darvish heading to San Diego, the consensus around the league is that Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman won’t feel pressured to make a similar splash in response to those moves.

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