After a disappointing 2019 season former Padres Executive Chairman Ron Fowler warned that changes would come if his team didn’t win, and win now.
In 2020 the Padres won, eliminating the possibility of the changes threatened by Fowler. Instead some other changes were made.
The club announced new titles for General Manager A.J. Preller and President of Business Operations Erik Greupner. Preller adds President of Baseball Operations to his title, while Greupner now serves as the team’s Chief Executive Officer.
“Erik and A.J. have earned their promotions by assembling strong business and baseball operations groups within our organization while working together towards our singular goal of winning a World Series championship,” Padres Owner Peter Seidler said in a statement released by the team. “Erik is a steady hand and multi-talented leader, and he has been the driving force behind our innovative business growth in a continuously evolving sports landscape. A.J. has skillfully built both a playoff-caliber Major League club and a top tier minor league system. I look forward to working with Erik and A.J. towards an exciting future for our deserving and extraordinarily supportive fans.”
Preller, who took over as executive vice preseident/general manager in 2014, finally brought a winning baseball team back to San Diego in 2020. After a disappointing 2019 campaign, Fowler – who stepped down from his post in November – made clear the expectations for the team and the consequences that would result if losing seasons continued.
Fowler’s charge came at Jayce Tingler’s introductory press conference. The little known manager selected by Preller ended up being a good one. Tingler was a candidate for National League Manager of the Year, and his coaching staff helped the stars Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers make notable improvements in 2020.
Meanwhile, Preller continued his overhaul of San Diego’s roster. Prior to the 2020 season he traded for centerfielder Trent Grisham, pitcher Zach Davies, second baseman Jake Cronenworth, and outfielder Tommy Pham. Their additions helped position the Padres for playoff contention, which spurred Preller to make another wave of deals at the trade deadline. Those were highlighted by the acquisitions of starting pitcher Mike Clevinger, catcher Austin Nola, and closer Trevor Rosenthal (who is currently a free agent).
The new-look group helped the Padres make the playoffs for the first time since 2006, and win a playoff series for the first time since 2008. In the 60-game season, San Diego posted the best winning percentage (.617) in club history.
Preller continued to load the Padres with talent this offseason, trading for 2018 Cy Young winner Blake Snell, 2020 Cy Young runner-up Yu Darvish, and fellow starting pitcher Joe Musgrove. He also signed infielder Ha-Seong Kim, a highly regarded 25-year-old from Korea.
All the while, Preller has maintained one of the top minor league systems in baseball – a talent pool he built through savvy international signings, trades, and draft picks since 2015.
“The commitment from our organization is a reflection of the work done by all of the members of our entire baseball operations team,” Preller said in the team’s statement. “I’m proud to be a part of a talented group whose main focus is to bring a championship to San Diego. The foundation has been laid over the past five years and I’m personally very excited about what the future holds for the Padres.”
Greupner has served the Padres in various roles since 2010. He has been instrumental in improvements to, and around Petco Park. Under his watch the club has set a number of ticketing, sponsorship, and non-baseball event revenue records. He had a hand in bringing the 2016 MLB All-Star Game to San Diego, and has aided in construction and renovation at the team’s Spring Training site in Peoria, Arizona.
Recently, he helped bring California’s first COVID-19 super vaccination site to Petco Park.
“I just could not be more grateful to be able to work in professional baseball in San Diego as long as I have. It’s been just a thrill of my life and career,” Greupner said in a recent episode of the On Friar podcast. “Now to step into this next year of Padres baseball, to be a part of that – it’s special.”
Greupner, like Preller and Seidler, have helped usher in a promising era of Padres baseball. All three are committed to finishing what they started.
“Ultimately doing everything that we can to deliver the first major professional sports championship to San Diego. It’s what gets A.J., Peter and I up in the morning. It’s our sole focus as an organization. We’re not gonna stop until we find a way to get that done. That’s the goal and when that day comes it’s gonna be pretty sweet.”
LISTEN: With NBC 7 San Diego’s Darnay Tripp and Derek Togerson behind the mic, On Friar will cover all things San Diego Padres. Interviews, analysis, behind the scenes…the ups, downs, and everything in between. Tap here to find On Friar wherever you listen to podcasts.