Fernando Tatis Jr. is happy in San Diego, and why wouldn’t he be?
He’s surrounded by a host of talented players and a central office that is clearly committed to winning a World Series; the offseason of high-level talent acquisition has been spectacular for Padres fans. And the Padres are obviously happy that Tatis is happy. And they are happy that his fans are happy with Tatis – his jersey ranked fourth in sales among all MLB players in 2020. Therefore, the player and the club agreed to a deal that will keep the rising superstar in the city for a long, long time. time. The terms, as reported by multiple sources: 14 years, $ 340 million.
BENDER: Is Tatis’s contract worth it? For Parents, that’s an easy “yes”
Baseball has never seen a contract like this, for a couple of reasons.
First, there’s this: At 14, it’s the longest contract in MLB history, breaking the previous 13-year mark held by Bryce Harper (free agent) and Giancarlo Stanton (extension). However, the $ 340 million is not the highest amount. It is “only” third on the list. Mookie Betts’ extension with the Dodgers was recorded at $ 365 million and Mike Trout’s extension to his deal was $ 360 million.
Here’s what really makes this one unique: Tatis just turned 22 on January 2. Yes, that is different.
This is the 15th deal signed by a player, as a free agent deal or as an extension, for $ 240 million or more. Trout was entering his 27-year season when he signed his 10-year, $ 360 million extension. Betts was entering their 27-year season, and Harper and Stanton were entering their 26-year season. Alex Rodríguez makes this list twice; he signed with the Rangers as a free agent entering his 25-year season, the extension he signed with the Yankees kicked into entering his 32-year season.
The others: Gerrit Cole (entering the season 29 years old), Manny Machado (26 years old), Nolan Arenado (28 years old), Stephen Strasburg (31 years old), Anthony Rendon (30 years old), Albert Pujols (32 years old) and Robinson Cano (31 years old). Miguel Cabrera was 31 when he signed his eight-year, $ 248 million extension in 2014, but that extension didn’t go into effect until 2016, when he was 33.
Several of these contracts have turned out to be mild disasters, to be sure, and the same is true if you examine the rest of the list of contracts signed for $ 150 million or more. But that’s because many of these large, lucrative deals were signed knowing that the player would be paid premium prices for seasons played in the mid-to-late 1930s. Almost all of those players were underpaid for their peak years and overpaid for their seasons of decline. It is a system in bad shape.
Tatis, however? The Padres are paying steep prices for what they expect to be their peak years. Did we mention that he just entered his 22-year season?
This deal will end a few months before he turns 37. Cabrera played 57 games for the Tigers in 2020, his 37-year season; produced 0.0 bWAR. Pujols has played four years since he turned 37, and the Angels have pledged to pay him $ 110 million in those seasons (the actual total is lower due to the 2020 season shortened by the pandemic), with another $ 30 million available for 2021. Four seasons after his 37th birthday, Pujols has produced minus 0.7 bWAR.
You just can’t compare Tatis’s offering to most of the offers on this list.
Tatis has been quite incredible in his short time in the majors, finishing third in the 2019 National League Rookie of the Year voting and fourth in the 2020 National League MVP race. In those 143 career games , Tatis has 7.0 bWAR, 39 home runs, 27 stolen bases, 98 RBIs, 111 runs scored, a line of .301 / .374 / .571 with a 154 OPS +. Without a doubt, an astonishing production for such a young star .
MORE: Even With The New Pay Increase, Minor League Players Still Hugely Underpaid
But yes, it is a risk for the club. Because let’s face it: The Padres just committed $ 340 million to a player who hasn’t played a full season in the majors yet, and no matter the talent, internal drive, or level of confidence in the player, there’s a factor of ” Oh!” that equation. However, if any player is worth that bet, it is Tatis.
Young players signing an extension is quite common, of course. Those deals typically cover his arbitration years and a season or two in which he would have been a free agent, most often with club options. Some even lock in long-term money with little to no time in the majors: Eloy Jiménez signed a six-year, $ 43 million deal with the White Sox before playing his first major league game. But there has been nothing at the level of this deal with Tatis.
Look at the Braves, who agreed to a long-term deal with their rising young superstar, Ronald Acuña Jr., in April 2019. He was the 2018 National League Rookie of the Year, but only had a full season and 111 games under. his great league belt entering 2019, his 21-year season. Acuña’s deal covered his years of arbitration, plus two potential free agent seasons (2025-2026), with club options for 2027 and 2028. He can enter the free agent market after his 30-year season.
The baseline for that deal: eight years, $ 100 million. If both options are picked up, and they’ll be an outright steal for the club if it’s still healthy, at $ 17 million per season, the total deal will be 10 years, $ 134 million. That’s not even the same universe as Tatis’s total $ 340 million guarantee. The compensation? Acuña, if he remains the superstar everyone expects him to be, and has been in the two years since he signed the deal, he could land another lucrative free agent contract at the end of his current contract. He will only enter his 31-year season.
Make no mistake: this Tatis contract is groundbreaking. But is it trendsetting? Probably not, honestly, and this is why: there may be only one other player worth even discussing this kind of deal so early in his career.
Say the Nationals’ chances of signing Juan Soto even for a penny less than a full market value deal they have completely evaporated.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.