Don’t put anything past Preller, Padres as they search for shortstop

Every time it seems Padres general manager A.J. Preller can't make another bold, expensive move, he does. That's what makes his pursuit of a shortstop intriguing.

Andy Hayt/San Diego Padres/Getty Images

It’s crazy that I’m even thinking this, but I’m starting to view the Padres as almost a junior version of the Dodgers.

I’ll believe they’re out of money when I see it.

I thought they could not take on another big contract after getting Matt Kemp, and they traded for Justin Upton.

I thought they were done after acquiring Upton and others, and they signed James Shields for $75 million.

I thought they absolutely were finished after landing Shields, and they absorbed more than $53 million to obtain Craig Kimbrel.

Seeing a pattern? Of course you are. And as the Padres continue pursuing a shortstop, who’s to say they’re going to stop?

The Pads, according to major-league sources, indeed are renewing their focus on acquiring an upgrade over Clint Barmes and Alexi Amarista at short, as first reported by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

But if they acquire a shortstop, I’m guessing it will be a younger, less expensive player than the most obvious names – the Cubs’ Starlin Castro and Rangers’ Elvis Andrus.

Much of the recent media speculation centers on Castro, whom the Cubs likely will attempt to move to clear the position for top prospect Addison Russell.

Well, the Padres indeed have talked to the Cubs about infielders, but not recently, one source said. What’s more, some with the Pads are less than enamored of Castro’s defense, another source said, echoing a view held by many in the industry.

Andrus would appear a more logical target — Padres general manager A.J. Preller knows him well from their days together with the Rangers and is known to be a fan.

Problem is, the season just started – not an issue for Preller, who made the blockbuster for Kimbrel on the eve of Opening Day, but likely one for the Rangers, who surely are not ready to concede and do not want to sell low.

Andrus, 26, is in the first year of an eight-year, $120 million contract and needs to rebuild his value after two subpar offensive seasons.

MASCOT RANKINGS!

Another thing: The Rangers no longer are deep at shortstop, not after losing Jurickson Profar to injury for the second straight season and sending Luis Sardinas to the Brewers in the Yovani Gallardo trade.

To get Andrus, the Padres would need to either swallow the majority of his contract or part with top prospects in exchange for the Rangers including significant cash in the deal.

At this point, Preller pretty much has traded all of the Padres’ top prospects except for outfielder Hunter Renfroe and catcher Austin Hedges, the latter of whom draws mixed reviews.

Better that Preller should build a deal around the Padres’ surplus of major-league quality relievers and target a shortstop from a team with a surplus of young middle infielders.

Heaven knows the Jays needs relievers, but Goins is 27 and might never produce enough offensively to justify an everyday job. Remember, the idea is to upgrade over Barmes and Amarista, not acquire a similar player.

* Sardinas, Brewers. Preller is quite familiar with the switch hitter, and I reported in late January that the Padres had discussed him as an option after the Brewers had acquired him from the Rangers.

AROUND THE HORN

Sardinas, who will turn 22 on May 16, might not hit enough to be more than a utility man. Preller might prefer the more established Jean Segura, but the Brewers probably would not make such a move unless they trusted Sardinas, and there is no evidence of that.

The Brewers demoted Sardinas to start the season, keeping two older utility infielders, Hector Gomez and Luis Jimenez, instead.

* Leury Garcia, White Sox. Yet another former switch-hitting Rangers infielder with questionable offensive ability. Garcia, 24, opened the season in the minors, and second baseman Micah Johnson and shortstop prospect Tim Johnson are bigger parts of the White Sox’s future.

Another White Sox infielder, switch hitter Carlos Sanchez, is in a similar position to Garcia’s, though he is considered more of a second baseman. Again, would either be enough of an upgrade?

I can think of some other possible trade partners for the Padres, too — the Reds (Zack Cosart, Eugenio Suarez), Diamondbacks (Nick Ahmed, Chris Owings) and Giants (Ehire Adrianza).

HIGH FASHION WITH A PURPOSE

But why am I even racking my brain?

Preller probably is putting the finishing touches on a Troy Tulowitzki trade as we speak!

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