San Diego general manager A.J. Preller was hired in August of 2014. The Padres haven’t had even a winning record since then, much less a playoff appearance. In fact, the best record in that span was 74-88 and that happened in 2015. Why am I mentioning this in a trade deadline primer, one might ask? Because Preller surely can’t keep his job if the Padres miss the playoffs this season, can he? 

He’s had all kinds of time and the playoff field is expanded to include more than half the league this year. This means even if the Padres weren’t contenders, I don’t think they’d be sellers. 

Given the way things look right now, there’s every reason to believe Preller will attempt to be aggressive in adding to his club to make it as competitive as possible in getting to October and then to make a run deep into the playoffs. They are contenders and have a motivated front office. 

Here are the Padres’ biggest needs, targets and trade chips.

Biggest needs

The absolutely need to shore up the bullpen, especially with the start Kirby Yates — who is now on the injured list — had. 

With Francisco Mejia hurt, they could be in the market for help behind the plate. It’s hard telling what catchers could be available, of course, but they’ll likely be checking. The injury to Tommy Pham also means they could use outfield help.

In the rotation, I’d still love to see them giving top prospect MacKenzie Gore a shot. He has frontline potential and there’s really no reason to leave anything on the table this year. Why would Preller be manipulating service time when he’s trying to keep his job? Between Gore and hopefully getting Joey Lucchesi right at the alternate training site, they should have enough internally to use their capital elsewhere. 

Possible targets

In the bullpen, nearly anyone available works. Trevor Rosenthal looks like his old self and he’d be a nice fit. Could they pry Ken Giles away from the Blue Jays? Do we trust Greg Holland? He’s surely available. 

In terms of an outfield bat, they should look to the Giants. Alex Dickerson in a return? Could they cough up a high-level prospect for Mike Yastrzemski? That seems enticing. He looks excellent and he’s under team control all the way through 2025. 

While we’re talking about giving up high-level prospects, get on the horn with K.C. and see what they want for Whit Merrifield. He’d be one hell of a table-setter for Fernando Tatis and Manny Machado. 

In lesser deals, JaCoby Jones or Kevin Pillar could work to temporarily fill in for Pham. 

Trade chips

Gore is surely off limits and the bet is that right-handed pitcher Luis Patino, a consensus top-50 prospect in baseball, is as well. Shortstop C.J. Abrams is also highly touted by the scouting community but I wonder if the presence of Machado and Tatis on the infield means Preller would be willing to part with him in order to make a big splash, perhaps a Merrifield deal is what would convince him. 

Other top-100 prospects from this loaded system on various outlets include outfielder Taylor Trammell, catcher Luis Campusano, left-handed pitcher Adrian Morejon and shortstop Gabriel Arias. You don’t always hold every highly regarded prospect. Some of them become currency to deal in order to improve the current club. 

If the Padres wanted to part with the mid-level prospects instead, here are some guys that could be shipped away. 

It’s such an incredibly deep system, the Padres should have plenty of options to deal for big-league help at this time. The only question is if there will be enough sellers to flood the market with good available players. 

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