"One of the things is he wants to do it," said Preller. "You put a lot of stock in that."
This won't be a new concept for Maurer, a 25-year-old right-hander who made 21 starts for the Mariners in 2013-2014 and has made 69 starts in the Minor Leagues.
"Brandon, in Seattle, was very young as a starter," said Padres manager Andy Green. "You look at his Minor League track record, his dominance in Jackson in Double-A, he was a tremendous starter there."
Maurer was 9-2 with a 3.20 ERA as a starter with Jackson in 2012.
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Maurer was 7-4 with a 3.00 ERA last season in 53 games and 51 innings. He struck out 39 and allowed 39 hits in that stretch. He had a 1.86 ERA over the first three months of the season.
"We know that he can pitch coming out of the bullpen," Preller said.
Maurer didn't pitch after Aug. 9 after being placed on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.
Maurer attempted to return in September but still felt soreness in the shoulder. The team decided to shut him down for the rest of the season at that point.
Preller said Maurer has three good pitches -- a mid-90s fastball, a wipeout slider and a changeup. His curveball has been good in the past as well. The Padres like that 47.7 percent ground-ball rate from a year ago.
Maurer helps fill out a rotation that already includes James Shields, Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner.
If Maurer does earn a spot, then the final spot in the rotation could come down to Brandon Morrow, Colin Rea or Robbie Erlin.
As it stands, lefty Drew Pomeranz, obtained last month from the A's, likely pegs as a reliever, though he's made 49 big leagues starts since 2011 and his role could certainly change.
If Maurer does make the rotation, the bullpen will look much different than it did a year ago when Maurer mostly handled the seventh inning, Joaquin Benoit had the eighth inning and Craig Kimbrel was the closer.
Benoit and Kimbrel have been traded, to the Mariners and Red Sox, respectively, leaving Jon Edwards and Kevin Quackenbush as front-runners to close. The team added four arms this winter -- two being Rule 5 Draft picks -- who could figure in the bullpen mix.
The Padres haven't ruled out adding a reliever this offseason as well and previously have been linked to Fernando Rodney.
Pitchers and catchers report to Peoria for the start of Spring Training on Feb. 18 with the first workout set for the following day.