Is a Contract Extension in Fernando Tatis Jr.’s Future?
Rumors about an imminent contract extension for Fernando Tatis Jr. flew around baseball news sites last week. Now, different sources have confirmed that the alleged deal hasn’t even been talked about, let alone decided. Regardless, the San Diego Padres seem eager to ink Tatis with a long term contract before the start of the 2021 campaign.
The speculated contract extension was $320 million over 11 years, according to a Dominican news outlet called Pio Deportes. If this does come to fruition sometime before Opening Day, it would become the sixth richest contract in baseball history, bumping Many Machado’s $300 million over ten years to seventh all time. Even though Tatis Jr. may not sign the dotted line just yet, here are a couple reasons why he deserves a lifetime deal.
Tatis Oozes Talent
As most of the baseball world knows, Fernando Tatis Jr. is one of the best in the game. The Padres have never had a player of this high-caliber playing captain of the infield in arguably their most dynamic lineup in history. While both his swagger and confidence add to his appeal, the numbers he posted after two seasons in the MLB speak volumes.
Tatis hit .317/.379/.590 with 22 homers and 16 steals over his 372 plate appearances in his rookie year. That season was riddled with injuries and a few errors at shortstop, but he just got better in 2020. Tatis earned a Silver Slugger award and finished 4th in NL MVP voting last year. He hits the ball harder than anyone, runs quicker and more aggressively than most and plays with refreshing swagger every time he takes the field.
The way player negotiations are drawn up, Tatis and his agent Dan Lazono, who nailed down Machado’s contract, have every right to ask for the salary he deserves. And if you compare the contracts of the greats, you can assume that Tatis expects similar numbers.
Other upcoming players around the league may look to him to set the market for their own future negotiations. When the time comes for Tatis to talk money, he knows he’s going to make a lot of it.
He’s The New Face of Baseball
Tatis’ marketability is just as alluring as his skillset. His brand as a young superstar has potential to expand off the diamond with great posterity.
Baseball is America’s pastime for a reason: it’s been around since the 19th century. The sport receives constant criticism for its old-school style of play. While many baseball connoisseurs love it for this very reason, many hope the game will someday evolve and cater to a younger audience. Tatis is the Padres’ ticket to that future.
Beyond swinging on 3-0 pitches and tags up on pop-ups to the infield, Tatis is as unconventional as it gets. He dances, he leaps, he shouts, he sings––he’s everything young kids envision when they sign up for Little League.
MLB: The Show, baseball’s most popular video game, features a star on their game’s cover every year. Being that the game is produced in San Diego, and that the Padres have not had a player worthy of landing a cover shot in decades, Tatis is a strong candidate. This news has yet to be announced, but his commercial with Adidas dropped last November. It calls attention to the reserved nature of baseball, and how he challenges those outdated norms.
Tatis’ popularity extends far beyond the national landscape. His stature in the Dominican Republic means that San Diego’s market reaches an international fanbase–one bat flip at a time. And if you were wondering how his offseason training is going, here’s a clip of a solo homer he crushed while playing in the Dominican Winter League on Jan. 1.
— LIDOM (@LIDOMRD) January 3, 2021
San Diego has team control over Tatis’ contract through 2021, and he has arbitration eligibility through 2024. There is risk with signing a player who is so young and technically hasn’t played a full season yet. He only has 143 games under his belt, and turned 22 just over a week ago. Tatis’ experience pales in comparison to other players who have signed major contract extensions in past years.
But for A.J. Preller, who has already made his offseason priorities clear, it makes sense to go all in on Fernando Tatis Jr.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images