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San Diego Padres reportedly dealing with ‘toxic’ environment created by AJ Preller’s management style

San Diego Padres president of baseball operations and general manager AJ Preller has played a major role in the team’s resurgence, however, a new report claims his approach to improving the team has created a “toxic” environment around the organization.

It took five managers and eight sevens, but eventually, AJ Preller was able to turn the San Diego Padres into a winning team. Yet, what might be the most impressive part of his nine-year tenure with the franchise is being able to talk the team’s ownership to make this mid-market club throw money around like the big boys the last two seasons.

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However, that success from 2022 did not last long, and this season the Pads have been, arguably, the biggest disappointment in MLB. The organization has its largest payroll ever, but the team heads into the final weeks of the season five games under .500 and is on the brink of being eliminated from playoff contention.

The roster has dealt with its share of bad luck and unexpectedly poor performances, and that is why some outside the franchise believe it would not be a surprise if San Diego was able to get right back into contention next season. But those in and around the organization aren’t so sure because of the type of culture Preller has created.

Trust and accountability lacking throughout the San Diego Padres organization

san diego padres
Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Dennis Lin reported on the anonymous opinions of close to 30 current and former Padres employees, and others in the sport about the current situation inside the organization. And the responses were quite troubling.

While Preller is appreciated for his work ethic and trying to outwork his competitors, one player reportedly claimed the team’s failings in 2023 were due to an “institutional failure” he has let set during his tenure. Furthermore, there is often pessimism about the team’s chances due to what was described as a “toxic” environment throughout the organization.

Another area where there seem to be major issues is an apparent disconnect between the general manager and skipper Bob Melvin. It is unclear if he will be retained after this season, but it almost seems unlikely because one player source claimed their relationship is “unfixable.”

While there are many who respect the GM’s ability to evaluate talent and put together a strong team, it’s his interpersonal skills that have been problematic as he reportedly rubs many the wrong way with his management style, especially on the coaching staff.

“You can argue he’s one of the best talent evaluators ever in the game,” a former Padres player said. “But just because you can evaluate talent doesn’t mean you know how to handle people.”

Trust is reportedly a major issue in the organization as the finger of blame is often pointed at others instead of there being a culture of accountability, which usually permeates throughout winning organizations. “Every day, it’s something. There is an aura of looking over your shoulder there,” another former player claimed.

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It will be interesting to see how the San Diego Padres offseason plays out for what seems like a very messy situation.