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December 11, 2019

A.J. Preller

San Diego, California

A.J. PRELLER: Wanted me to deliver an opening statement. The opening statement is day 3 Winter Meetings, voice almost gone, but still no activity in terms of trades or free agency. Any questions?

Q. There's nothing new and exciting to report? Nothing?
A.J. PRELLER: Always new and exciting. I think, again, I think just continuation in terms of getting a chance to get an idea of where we stand with certain free agents, where we stand from a trades perspective.

Again, I think some good information in terms of the ability to make news or anything like that, not right now. But getting an idea of what's possible and next steps and so forth.

Q. Would there be a benefit to adding another outfielder?
A.J. PRELLER: Yeah, we've talked about it. We feel good about the group we have there. We feel like we have depth and quality. But, again, I think the roster is a work in progress. I think we'll see how the next few weeks play out, and ultimately, I don't think there's any area that we feel like we need to line up on something.

I think it's just going to be if we get an upgrade or something that fits our club a little bit different, we'll continue looking at those different options.

Q. Franchy is doing really well in the Dominican. Where does he fit in the future?
A.J. PRELLER: Yeah, I think honestly, it's been a couple of years. I think sometimes you can kind of forget about Franchy and his ability to impact the game. I think it's been really nice. We're getting the reports every single night. It's nice seeing him on the field from a health standpoint.

I think, again, like making up for some lost time, I think we're hoping over the course of the next month he gets a chance to play regularly down in winter ball. You look up and he's got another 100 or so at-bats and is in a really good place for Spring Training.

I'd expect him to -- in our conversations, I'd expect him to be ready to come in and compete and come in and make our decision hard. He's competing for a spot on our Big League club, and I think we'll use the next few months to kind of see where he's at from an ability standpoint.

Q. So he'll play for the rest of the season down there?
A.J. PRELLER: Yeah. Again, I think we'll see how things end up going. I think it's kind of we'll sit there and week to week kind of make sure he's in a good place from a health standpoint and that he's still getting a lot out of playing every day down in Dominican.

So I think every week we have our medical team checking him and will probably go down and see him play. But, yeah, I think from our standpoint, I think having him go get at-bats, I think that's important for him right now.

Q. How close are you on anything so far? Anything kind of gotten to the last couple of steps and then kind of fallen through?
A.J. PRELLER: There's some different things. Again, I think there's some conversations where we're leading and trying to see if we can line up, and others where we have the ability to make a few trades. It's a decision we've got to make.

I think what we're looking to do is get through the Rule V tomorrow, and then we'll look at some of the different options at that point in total. Sit down again as a group, probably sit down with Ron and Peter, and give them some updates on where we're at and what possible next steps are for us, and then move forward from there.

Q. You expect to take anyone from the Rule V?
A.J. PRELLER: Again, I think with a full roster, I think, Pete DeYoung, his group, they do a good job of knowing what's out there. Again, at this point, we've had some different situations the last few years where late into the night before the Rule V we're making roster moves to free us up to be able to select somebody. We'll be prepared and see where it goes.

I think the expectation for us this year is probably like where we're at roster-wise. A little bit more than what's out there, but, again, when it comes to Rule V for us, it's kind of a never-say-never situation. We'll see how the rest of the evening plays out.

Q. How much better do you think you've gotten, and how much further to actually contend?
A.J. PRELLER: We think we're better. I think we have a more well-rounded roster. I think we've addressed, obviously, bullpen with Pomeranz. I think that's still an area we're looking to add to in the rotation.

Again, a lot of it is going to be improvement of some of the guys that are coming back now year two, year three. I think the help from a Lamet/Richards is going to be really important with Dinelson Lamet and Garrett Richards coming back.

Looking forward to Richards coming back and pitching for a full season, and kind of continuing to see the development of Chris Paddack.

Offensively, we feel we have more options and have the ability to have different options for clubs in terms of handedness, left-handed hitters. Some guys that complement Tatis and Hosmer and Machado. I think we're better. I think we're realistic we've still got more things to do to really start to get to a point where we feel real confident about where we're going to stand going into next year, but we definitely feel like we're a better club.

Q. This might be a little way down the road, but have you thought about guys coming to Big League Spring Training who are not on the roster specifically, like Gore, Patino, Trammell?
A.J. PRELLER: We started those conversations already. We'll get through the end of the year and start inviting guys within our system. We've had those internal conversations and will make some final calls as we get into the new year.

Q. What's the patience of your ownership group this year as compared to the last couple of years?
A.J. PRELLER: I think for us, overall, I think on the same page in terms of Ron and myself, Peter. I think this is a plan that really started four years ago in terms of looking at this as getting to a point in time, honestly, probably at the 2020 season, that we had put together enough talent and started to have those talented players get to the Big Leagues together at a similar point in time.

We have some payroll flexibility we can use to add some pieces. And the result, honestly starting for us, the goal, when we started this process four years ago, is to look at this decade as a decade that we're going to be successful.

I think everybody's anxious to start to see that and start to see us move up the standings. But honestly, when you sit down with the players, you never know exactly we're going to time it up for this year, for this point in time.

But honestly, I feel like what we set out to do four years ago, we're in a good position to be successful here over the course of the next five years plus.

I think Ron, Peter, they share the same feelings that myself and the baseball operations group feels running through the club, and going to start playing some very meaningful baseball here.

Q. Getting to know Bobby Dickerson, how is he able to get the most out of Manny Machado, and how do you expect him to apply that to the rest of your lineup?
A.J. PRELLER: I think with Bobby I've heard a lot about him over the years, and I think getting to spend a lot of time on the phone and in person, we've had a number of different conversations, meetings with the coaching staff. It's pretty easy to see why he's a special coach. He's got great knowledge, great content. His delivery to players, he's able to connect. He's very direct. He makes it fun. He's very honest with players.

So I think pretty quickly you see why a guy -- for example, that whole infield in Baltimore, you hear stories about Jonathan Schoop and Manny Machado as young players. J.J. Hardy performing at a Gold Glove level. Chris Davis performing at a really good level on a team that -- those years in Baltimore every year seemingly was picked at the back of the standings, and every year ended up at the top part of the standings. I think their defense was a big reason for that.

We've heard about Bobby, and now in the last month getting to see it on a day-to-day basis, we expect him to be impactful for us.

Q. Are the additional coaches just for this year?
A.J. PRELLER: Yeah, I think part of it too -- I think part of it, it's not necessarily additional coaches. Ryan Flaherty's role, Ryan retiring and getting off the field, he's going to help us in a variety of areas. He's going to help us from the advanced scouting side of it, so helping us from a preparation standpoint.

And then he obviously has the ability to get on the field and work with infield, work with base runners, throw BP. So, again, that's a role that, I think for us -- we've had different people in that role over the course of the last few years, multiple people in that role. I think Ryan has the ability to -- we're looking to him to combine his on-field experience, the ability to get out on the field with our players and help them get better, but then also look at the team and help analyze the game and work with our front office staff to make sure our players are really well prepared.

And I think overall, from a staffing standpoint, we'll be pretty much on pointe with the same number of coaches that we've had the last few years. You know, Rod's role, I think kind of specializing with the catchers is a little bit different, but for the most part, it's a pretty similar staff structure.

Q. When reports start circulating that you're trying to move someone like Wil Myers and trying to move an Austin Hedges, and if that move doesn't happen, do you have to concern yourself with maybe reaching out to those players, mend a relationship? Are you concerned about the psyche of an individual, rumors trying to be sent off somewhere else?
A.J. PRELLER: I think the players understand that at this time of year, and then also at the trade deadline, there's a lot of information out there. A lot of the information, honestly, sometimes some things are accurate. There's just a lot of reports and there's a lot of inaccuracy to some of the things that are out there as well.

Again, myself, Jayce, the staff, try to be very open in communication. We'll go back, and we've been talking to the players here pretty regularly in the off-season. We'll continue doing that with Wil and Austin specifically, but it's all going to be geared towards how they're going to impact our club going forward. What they're doing in their training, their off-season program, ways they need to improve, ways they can impact our team, getting their feedback on what they can do with our club.

That's going to be the conversation, and I think they understand that.

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