A.J. PRELLER EMERGING AS “G.M. ROCK STAR”
“I don’t think he’s done yet. He’s just as focused on pursuing international talent and making sure we have an amateur scouting department that’s going to put us in a good position to replenish and build the farm system. That doesn’t have to come at the expense of doing what we just did and making moves to keep the current Padres right there, competitive.”
—Padres president and CEO Mike Dee, on the club’s future plans following A.J. Preller’s series of moves to bring, among others, Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, and Derek Norris to San Diego. (Dennis Lin, San Diego Tribune)
“I think we were ready to invest as soon as we felt comfortable we had a plan and somebody who was going to articulate a plan for ownership that we were confident in. Everyone thought we made the change last year because we were playing poorly, but I said at the time that only accelerated the decision and in many ways it ended up being a positive thing.”
—Dee, on giving Preller a five-year contract in early August.
“We just didn’t see the kind of tenacity and the kind of leadership that we’ve seen in the last five months from the baseball-operations side. We just felt a great deal of confidence in A.J. and how prepared he is. I’ve worked around other great GMs in my baseball career, and all of them had an eye for talent and worked hard. But when everybody else maybe kicks back for the night, A.J.’s like, ‘I’m going to hang back here,’ and then he’ll look at another hour-and-a-half of information. He’s just a relentless pursuer of talent. It’s not a job. It’s who he is.”
—Dee, on Preller.
“This is unbelievable; I was just referring to him as a rock star—a G.M. rock star,”
—Padres outfielder Matt Kemp, on general manager A.J. Preller. (Jeff Sanders, San Diego Tribune)
PHILLIES READY TO TURN THE PAGE
“The bottom line is that it is about wins and losses, and that's what it's all about. I know [fans] like to identify with certain players, but in this business it's about wins and losses. And I grew up with some of these players as well. There is some sentimentality that is built in automatically, and that is one of the things that's important—to have our fans identify with our players. But at some point, you have to turn the page, and we're at that stage now.”
—Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., on trading shortstop Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers (Mike Sielski, Philadelphia Inquirer)
“We've talked to Ryan and I told him that in our situation it would probably bode better for the organization not with him but without him. With that said if he's with us, then we'll work around him. We'll hope he puts up the kind of numbers that we hope he can and we'll see where it goes from there.”
—Amaro Jr., in an interview with 97.5 The Fanatic’s Mike Missanelli, on the club’s stance on first baseman Ryan Howard. (Matt Lombardo, NJ.com)
“We can keep him and it would be great for us and if we feel he can move us forward by moving him, that’s something we can explore as well. We don’t have any rush to move him or mandate to move him. Hopefully, he’s one of those guys that will be in a Phillies uniform for a long time, but we have to explore all of our opportunities. We’re not doing our organization any justice if we don’t explore every opportunity to get better.”
—Amaro Jr., on the possibility of trading starting pitcher Cole Hamels. (Ryan Lawrence, Philadelphia Daily News)
EPSTEIN WAS WILLING TO GO TO GREAT LENGTHS TO GET LESTER
“We had an advantage because we know his personality so well. We know their values, what they were looking for, what they would care about, what they wouldn’t care about. We were able to customize the itinerary.”
—Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, on the advantage of having a previous relationship with Jon Lester and his family, when negotiating his six-year, $155 million contract. (Patrick Mooney, CSN Chicago)
“As soon as we left the meeting, we had a good feeling about what they were bringing to the table as far as the future of this organization. I believe in these guys. I believe in what they told me. Whether that’s the fact that I knew them before and I can kind of tell if they’re BS-ing me or not…if they are, they did a good job.”
—Lester, on the meeting he had with Epstein and other Cubs officials the week before Thanksgiving.
“I was ready to soak myself in deer urine, if necessary.”
—Epstein, on how badly he wanted to sign Lester.
“The fact that we haven’t won in so long helps define who we are. It adds meaning and resonance to what we’re trying to accomplish here. And I think it attracts players who aren’t afraid of that challenge and want to be here for the right reasons. And it definitely attracted Jon Lester.”
"They want to win. They're proving it. They're showing it right now. The team, from what I've seen, especially last year the way they played, they're in the right direction. This organization is on the rise once again and I'm just so happy to be a part of it. We're right on the cusp of doing something great."
—Michael Morse, on signing a free agent contract with the Miami Marlins. The team has recently acquired Mat Latos, Dee Gordon, and Martin Prado in trades, and signed Giancarlo Stanton to an extension (Juan C. Rodriguez, Sun Sentinel)
"We're not rebuilding. If we were, Johnny Cueto'd be gone. Mike Leake'd be gone. The payroll is up. Our payroll has increased every year, despite what some people are writing or thinking, our payroll is increasing again this year. It's not increasing to the level it would need to have been able to keep the guys we traded. It's still increasing quite a bit over last year, but everyone's salaries are jumping up. We knew that going into last year."
—Reds general manager Walt Jocketty, on trading away pitchers Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon for prospects (John Fay, Cincinnati Enquirer)
“It's never easy trading one of your own, and this is a guy who we drafted, signed, developed and grew with us. We had a lot of trials and tribulations with him, saw the kid grow up … not only physically and mentally but psychologically in his career with us. It was a tough guy to make the phone call (to). When we told him he was traded, it was a very emotional phone call between Steven and I because we've gone through a lot of things together. I'm just excited about the opportunity he's going to get. Tampa Bay's getting a very good young player with a great attitude and a lot of talent.”
—Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, on trading outfielder Stephen Souza Jr. to the Padres (Pete Kerzel, MASN Sports)
“We looked at what he’d done, really solid seasons from  to ’12 but in particular ’10, ’11 and ’12. Coming off the knee surgeries, typically you don’t see a guy back to 100 percent until a year or two after. We’re working that, this is going to be year two, this is the first offseason he’ll have to truly work and get in baseball shape and not rehab. We’re certainly going to have to be diligent in our maintenance with Corey. The outfield will take a larger toll on an injured player’s knees than with the infield.”
—Pirates general manager Neal Huntington, on signing first baseman and outfielder Corey Hart (Bill Brink, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
"Our goal was to find that now-ready guy, but that deal wasn't out there. That just never presented itself. We spent a lot of time talking to a lot of clubs about a lot of different players going through this deal. And I think as the Winter Meetings closed down, we just began to realize that just wasn't going to present itself. No matter how talented Justin Upton is, there just was not a deal out there that was going to allow us to bring in a now-ready guy."
—Braves team president John Hart, on negotiating the return for Justin Upton, who he traded to the San Diego Padres in exchange for prospects (Staff, FOX Sports South)