Major League Baseball suspended San Diego Padres general manager A.J. Preller for 30 days without pay after an investigation into the trade of pitcher Drew Pomeranz to the Boston Red Sox.
MLB was looking at the Padres’ handling of medical information of players it was trading. The league’s investigators interviewed officials from both teams and then submitted their findings to commissioner Rob Manfred.
MLB, which announced the suspension Thursday, said it considers the matter closed.
Sources: Padres hid medical info from database
The Padres could face discipline after hiding players’ medical information from an MLB database in an effort to benefit from trades, sources told ESPN.
Padres officials instructed their organization’s athletic trainers to maintain two distinct files of medical information on their players — one for industry consumption and the other for the team’s internal use, multiple sources told ESPN.
Trainers were told in meetings during spring training that the distinction was meant to better position the team for trades, according to two sources with direct knowledge of what was said.
On July 14, the Red Sox traded one of their best pitching prospects, Anderson Espinoza, for Pomeranz, San Diego’s All-Star left-hander. Sources within the Boston organization say it wasn’t until after the deal was made that they became aware of some of the preventive measures that had been provided for Pomeranz.
According to sources familiar with the fallout from some of the Padres’ midseason deals, officials from at least three teams that made trades with San Diego — the Red Sox, Miami Marlins and Chicago White Sox — were enraged by what they perceived to be strategic deception: veiling medical information that could have been pivotal in trade discussions. At least one other team reached out to the commissioner’s office with a complaint, sources told ESPN.
The suspension was specific to the Pomeranz trade but does not preclude MLB from pursuing further questions about the Padres’ actions if information develops, a source said.
All MLB teams feed medical information into a central database known as the Sutton Medical System, designed to both maintain the privacy of individual players and to be accessible to teams when needed — such as when trades are made.
Any time a player goes into the training room and receives treatment — down to hot tubs, aspirin and anti-inflammatories — those details are supposed to be entered into records.
When teams close in on trades, the athletic trainers usually exchange codes needed to access the medical information stored on the players in question so inquiring teams can learn about a player’s physical condition.
Two sources with direct knowledge of the Padres’ meetings told ESPN that the staffers were instructed by front-office officials to document medical details about players into two separate systems.
The athletic trainers were told to post the details of any disabled-list-related medical situations on MLB’s central system, but they also were instructed to keep the specifics about preventive treatments only on the Padres’ internal notes. One source defined the distinction in this way: If a player was treated for a sore hamstring or shoulder without being placed on the disabled list, that sort of information was to be kept in-house, for use within the organization only.
The athletic trainers were told that by splitting the medical files into two categories, the Padres would benefit in trade discussions, two sources with direct knowledge of those meetings said.
Preller previously worked for the Texas Rangers and, when he was overseeing their international operations in 2010, he was suspended for violations of baseball rules regarding signings.
He was hired by San Diego in August 2014, after years of developing a reputation for being one of the sport’s best and most adept scouts. Preller has been lauded by the Padres’ ownership for his work in stocking the team’s farm system.
Shortly after Preller took over the Padres, the team was reprimanded by MLB for conducting a workout contrary to industry regulations.