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Rangers' A.J. Preller likely top candidate in Padres GM search

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Rangers assistant GM A.J. Preller may be emerging as the leading candidate to become Padres GM, according to people familiar with the Padres' thinking.

Both Preller and Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler are seen as having especially good chances, with Preller viewed as perhaps the favorite into the second round of interviews.

Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen and MLB VP Kim Ng, formerly the assistant GM of the Yankees and Dodgers, also are finalists, with the Padres part-way through the second round. The team has announced that it's seen Preller and Hazen twice apiece, with Eppler and Ng still to go.

San Diego is said to be emphasizing player development and international scouting as it seeks a new leader of its baseball department to replace Josh Byrnes, who was fired last month by the new regime after only 2 1/2 years on the job in San Diego. Interestingly, Byrnes' signing of Cuban pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne to a $1-million minor-league deal is the kind of move the new Padres regime apparently is looking for.

Preller, 36, has extensive experience in the Latin America market, and helped to build the Rangers' strong presence there. He served as senior director of player personnel for the Rangers for three years before being elevated last year to AGM.

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