- Born circa 1977
A.J. Preller was named General Manager of the San Diego Padres on August 6, 2014, following a six-week search prompted by the firing of Josh Byrnes; Omar Minaya had filled the position in the interim while the search was ongoing.
Preller is a graduate of Cornell University, which puts him squarely in the 21st century trend of teams hiring Ivy League-educated sports business experts as their General Managers. He began working in baseball immediately upon graduating in 1999, with the Philadelphia Phillies, for whom he performed his internship while still in college, and the Los Angeles Dodgers, as well as for Major League Baseball, where he worked for Frank Robinson when he was Vice-President in charge of on-field operations. In 2004, he was hired as Director of international scouting by the Texas Rangers; he had known Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels at Cornell. He was promoted to Director of player personnel in 2009 and eventually rose to the rank of Assistant GM with the Rangers. In his scouting days he focused on Latin America and is fluent in Spanish.
The Padres offered Preller a five-year contract when they hired him. Because of his role in putting together a top-notch farm system in Texas, he explained that his first priority would be to increase the talent available to the Padres through better and more aggressive scouting. However, belying this early pledge to focus on the farm system, he was in fact extremely aggressive at his first winter meetings, held in San Diego itself in December 2014, swinging a number of major deals that completely reshaped the major league team. The Padres were buyers in these deals, giving up some prospects in order to acquire All-Star quality players such as OFs Matt Kemp, Wil Myers and Justin Upton and C Derek Norris. He continued the buying spree by signing free agent pitcher to a four-year, $75 million contract on February 8, 2015, then during spring training made an other big trade, acquiring closer Craig Kimbrel (and taking on the contract of Justin's injured brother, Melvin Upton) in return for supernumerary OFs Carlos Quentin and Cameron Maybin and a couple more prospects. The message from all these moves was clear: the Padres were poised to win immediately. However, it took a while for the team to jell, and it did not play like the juggernaut it was supposed to be on paper. On June 15th, Preller made another bold move, dismissing manager Bud Black, who was in his 9th season at the helm but had never reached the postseason during that span, and replacing him on an interim basis with bench coach Dave Roberts, before promoting AAA manager Pat Murphy to the position the next day.
On September 15, 2016, Preller was handed a thirty-day suspension by Major League Baseball for submitting false medical records to the Boston Red Sox in the trade of Drew Pomeranz earlier that season. The Padres argued that the problem had been inadvertent and that Preller would face no further discipline, but there had been a previous incident, in the trade of Colin Rea to the Miami Marlins, when the pitcher was returned to San Diego after a few days because the Marlins had not been properly informed of the condition of his elbow. Following an encouraging season in 2017, during which the Padres successfully introduced a number of young players to their line-up, Preller was given a three-year contract extension.
|San Diego Padres General Manager
- Bob Nightengale: "GM not quite done reshaping Padres", USA Today Sports, December 19, 2014. 
- Bob Nightengale: "MLB suspends Padres GM A.J. Preller for his conduct in trade", USA Today Sports, September 15, 2016.