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Padres owner Fowler eyes larger payroll

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PEORIA, Ariz. -- Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler said Wednesday that the goal for the team is to raise payroll every season.

"I think it's going to increase," Fowler said. "There are times where it might flatten and increase again. Over time, we'll continue to look into spend and invest in this team."

The Padres head toward Opening Day with a projected payroll of around $87 million. That's a significant bump from last year, when the team had a $68 million Opening Day payroll.

"We said we were going to add payroll, and we added payroll," Fowler said.

Unlike years past, the Padres spent in free agency, landing pitchers Josh Johnson on a one-year contract worth $8 million and reliever Joaquin Benoit on a two-year deal for $15.5 million.

Third baseman Chase Headley is the highest-paid Padres player this season at $10.525 million. He will be a free agent after the season unless his agent and the team can strike a deal for a contract extension before the end of Spring Training, as Headley has indicated he doesn't want contract talks to continue during the season.

Fowler wouldn't close the door on getting a deal done with Headley.

"There has been dialog," he said. "And we'll continue to have dialog. … Discussions have taken place."

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.

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