Major League Baseball suspends Padres’ GM over Drew Pomeranz trade
Published 11:06 pm Thursday, September 15, 2016
BOSTON — Major League Baseball suspended Padres general manager A.J. Preller for 30 days without pay on Thursday, hitting the San Diego executive with an unprecedented punishment for failing to disclose medical information when pitcher Drew Pomeranz was traded to the Boston Red Sox in July.
The commissioner’s office announced the discipline on Thursday without elaborating on what Preller did wrong. But in a statement issued by the Padres, Peller said he accepted full responsibility for “issues related to the oversight of our medical administration and record keeping.”
“I want to emphasize that there was no malicious intent on the part of me, or anyone on my staff, to conceal information or disregard MLB’s recommended guidelines,” Preller’s statement said. “This has been a learning process for me. I will serve my punishment and look forward to being back on the job in 30 days.”
While baseball has suspended owners, including George Steinbrenner of the Yankees and Marge Schott of the Reds, for transgressions ranging from racism to gambling and other skullduggery deemed not in the best interest of baseball, it was believed to be the first time a general manager had been benched for hiding medical information from a trade partner.
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But it’s not the first time Preller has run afoul of the commissioner’s office: As an assistant with the Texas Rangers, he was suspended for a month for violating baseball’s international signing rules.
And it’s not even the only time this summer a trade by Preller has been affected by a medical issue: A deadline deal that sent pitcher Colin Rea to Miami was effectively reversed after Rea was unable to make it through his first start with the Marlins because of an elbow injury.
After Rea was sent back to San Diego, Marlins president of baseball operations Mike Hill said that the teams exchanged medical records before the trade and there were no concerns.
The Padres said in a statement that they accept the discipline and will change their medical record-keeping procedures.
“Rest assured, we will leave no stone unturned in developing comprehensive processes to remediate this unintentional, but inexcusable, occurrence,” the team said in a statement attributed to Executive Chairman Ron Fowler, Managing Partner Peter Seidler and President and CEO Mike Dee.
“We believe that there was no intent on the part of A.J. Preller or other members of our baseball operations staff to mislead other clubs. We are obviously disappointed that we will lose A.J.’s services for 30 days, but will work closely with him upon his reinstatement to ensure that this unfortunate set of circumstances does not happen again.”
The Red Sox declined to comment on Thursday.
The Padres traded Pomeranz to Boston on July 14 for right-handed prospect Anderson Espinoza. An All-Star in San Diego, the former Ole Miss standout has been inconsistent in Boston with a 2-5 record and 4.60 ERA in 13 starts since the July 14 trade.
MLB said it conducted an investigation into the deal, interviewing individuals from both clubs, and submitted the findings to Commissioner Rob Manfred.