The Major League Baseball season is right around the corner, but teams aren't done making moves. The latest: the San Diego Padres ensuring their young star Fernando Tatis Jr. is sticking around for the long haul.
Tatis Jr. and the Padres agreed to a 14-year, $340 million extension. The deal is the third-largest in MLB history, behind only Mike Trout ($426.5 million) and Mookie Betts ($365 million). The Padres are also the first club to sign two players to $300+ million contracts; the team inked Manny Machado to a $300 million deal in 2019.
Yep, this is certainly not a "like father, like son" situation.
The Padres are banking on the 22-year-old Tatis Jr. becoming the biggest star in franchise history. The shortstop has only played in 143 major league games, yet he's already posted huge numbers. Tatis Jr. has splits of .301/.374/.582 with 39 home runs and 98 RBIs. He also showed improvement in drawing walks while cutting down on strikeouts per plate appearance in last year's shortened season.
Of course, the deal doesn't come without risk. Fourteen years is a long time for any contract. Tatis Jr. did have a back injury his rookie year, and if there are lingering effects from that (or new injuries in the future) it could make this deal look bad in retrospect.
Then again, at an average salary of just over $24 million per season, the contract may turn out to be a steal. And who knows what the landscape will look like in a decade and a half. The Padres know they have something special in Tatis Jr. and didn't want to waste any time. Now, they're a perennial postseason threat and a legitimate contender for multiple World Series over the next several years.
For a team that's never won it all, that's worth a premium price.