Fernando Tatis Jr. $340M Extension is a Win-Win for Baseball
When news broke for the first time late yesterday evening that Fernando Tatis Jr. had agreed to a massive extension with the San Diego Padres, all I kept thinking about was the length of the deal. 14 years!
As Dennis Lin pointed out in his column in The Athletic, the Padres will pay Tatis $300 million over the final 10 years of the contract. It also comes with a full no-trade clause that will keep the 22-year old with the Padres until he is 35-years old. It is the largest largest contract in Major League Baseball history, behind only Mike Trout and Mookie Betts. San Diego becomes the first team in MLB to give out a pair of $300 million contracts. Manny Machado signed the other mega deal with the Pads prior to the 2019 season as a free agent. The Yankees have Gerrit Cole and Giancarlo Stanton, but the DH signed his $300 million contract with the Marlins before being traded to the Bronx.
Tatis is a human highlight reel, offering terrific defense at the shortstop position and he couples that with an offensive tool set that would make most baseball evaluators drool. Rather than begin the 2019 season in El Paso and play Triple-A baseball for the first time in his career with the Chihuahuas, San Diego decided that Tatis had made the big league club and they kept him on the roster all season. He his .317 as a rookie with 22 home runs and 53 RBIs in just 84 games (he battled various injuries) to finish third in the National League Rookie of the Year voting. Then last season, he hit .277 with 17 home runs and 45 RBIs to help the Padres return to the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
The extension ensures the Padres that their $640 million left side of their infield will be intact through the next seven seasons. Machado and Tatis are a dynamic 1-2 punch, and both stars are the faces of the San Diego franchise. It also means the rivalry with the defending World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers will just get better and better each coming season.
The most important takeaway from the massive contract is that the San Diego Padres and not the Dodgers, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, or any other big market team is investing huge dollars with their young superstars. For years, the Padres were among teams criticized for never spending enough money to compete. San Diego owner Peter Seidler changed all of that over the last few years. As crazy as it sounds, $340 million is a very team friendly deal when it is spread out over 14 years. The average annual value of the deal is $24.28 million, a bargain when you look at other larger free agent contracts that have been handed out in recent years. Although some will say that the Padres are gambling on a young talent who has just 143 MLB games under his belt, the team has spent the last two years working on this extension. They knew that locking up Tatis was a necessity and now they have him in a Padres uniform for most of his career.