MINNEAPOLIS -- The Padres appear to be inching close to hiring a new general manager -- with "inching" being the operative word.
The team could announce as soon as Wednesday who will replace Josh Byrnes as general manager, but as of Monday, the team reportedly has turned its attention from Rangers assistant general manager A.J. Preller to Yankees assistant general manager Billy Eppler.
A report Monday on CBSsports.com stated the team viewed Eppler -- the San Diego native -- as the likely front-runner for the job instead of Preller, who several media outlets reported a week ago as the favorite to replace Byrnes, who was dismissed on June 22.
The Padres interviewed eight candidates for the job and had four of them back for second interviews -- Preller, Eppler, Kim Ng, who is the senior vice president of baseball operations for Major League baseball, and Red Sox assistant general manager Mike Hazen.
Eppler went to University of San Diego High and grew up in Allied Gardens. He joined the Yankees in 2004, and he was their director of pro scouting (2005-11) before later being promoted to assistant general manager.
Eppler assists general manager Brian Cashman in all areas of the team's Major League operations, including player acquisitions, roster composition and management, staffing and personnel decisions, and player contract negotiations, according to the team's media guide.
Eppler also oversees all phases and personnel in the Yankees' Major League and professional scouting departments both domestically and internationally.
One American League scout considered Eppler to be "organized, prepared and innovative."
Preller is in his 10th season with the Rangers and has been one of general manager Jon Daniels' most trusted lieutenants. From 2010-13, he was in charge of the Rangers' professional, international and amateur scouting and helped rebuild the farm system.
Preller is known as a "field rat" who is regarded as a very thorough talent evaluator, which is one of the components the Padres were looking for in their general manager search. The organization also wants to make a push in the international market, which also made Preller an appealing option.
The interview process from the team end has been steered by executive chairman Ron Fowler, team president and CEO Mike Dee and Peter Seidler of the team's ownership group.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. Will Laws is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.