Padres will give new GM Preller payroll flexibility

Padres will give new GM Preller payroll flexibility

SAN DIEGO -- First-year general manager A.J. Preller will have payroll flexibility for the upcoming season, said Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler.

Fowler said in an email to MLB.com on Thursday that the team has a "placeholder amount" for payroll for the 2015 season, but the club won't be afraid to stretch that number based on moves Preller wants to make during the offseason.

"That number could change significantly based on A.J.'s activities over the next 120 days," Fowler said.

Fowler did not say if that amount would be higher than the club-record $90 million Opening Day payroll the club had this past season. But Fowler has said on numerous occasions that the team intends to grow payroll over time.

The Padres have about $41 million in guaranteed contracts on the books already for next season, with reliever Joaquin Benoit and outfielder Carlos Quentin set to earn the most at $8 million each.

Several players are in line for hefty raises through arbitration, such as pitchers Andrew Cashner and Ian Kennedy.

Could Preller roll the dice and spend big on 24-year-old Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas?

The Padres have watched Tomas on at least three occasions -- twice during private workouts, the second of which was reported earlier this week by Baseball America. Preller has personally watched Tomas at least twice.

Tomas takes BP in the DR

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But as has been the case with other recent Cuban players signed on with big league clubs -- and have fared well -- Tomas will likely command a contract that could exceed $100 million over seven years or more.

The largest contract the Padres have given a player in franchise history was the extension they gave Jake Peavy after he won the NL Cy Young Award in 2007 -- a three-year, $52 million extension.

Preller declined to discuss specifics about Tomas.

"I think that's something that's our information … kind of a private deal," Preller said. "I think the biggest thing with all players -- it's not just Cuban or Latin players, or players in the Draft -- we're going to go after talented players with the makeup that we feel can help us on the field, and try to examine all those players that could potentially be plus players or upgrades for us. It's no different in Tomas' case."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.