The eye-popping contract extension is for 14 years, with the San Diego Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr. saying that he hopes to have a presence in the downtown area far longer.
Less than a week after it was revealed that Tatis had agreed to the third-largest contract in major league history at $340 million, he backed that up by saying he wants to go down in Padres lore. The club made the contract official Monday.
Tatis not only wants to be remembered in the border town in the same regard as Tony Gwynn and Trevor Hoffman, he wants to earn a spot for all time, perhaps in the grassy plaza beyond the left-center field wall at Petco Park.
“Why not go to a statue contract?” Tatis said, recalling negotiations with the team. “People are saying, ‘Oh, too many years.’ But I just love what I’m seeing, what we’re going to do. I want that statue on one team. I want to stay on one team and build my legacy over here in San Diego.”
Gwynn and Hoffman have their own statues at Petco Park, but they also earned spots in the Baseball Hall of Fame to get the honor. Unsaid in Tatis’ “statue” intention is that he would like to earn his way to Cooperstown, too, but only because he kept the Padres a winner for years to come.
Tatis helped the Padres into the playoffs last season, the first time the team had been on the October stage since 2006. The Padres dispatched the St. Louis Cardinals in the wild-card round but were swept away in the division series by their nemesis to the north, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
A few weeks later, the Dodgers earned what Tatis has targeted for his own club: a World Series title.
San Diego might not have a major-city vibe, but Tatis intends to pattern his career after New York legend and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter.
“I was already thinking about that since I got to the big leagues,” Tatis said as the Padres approached their first full-squad workout of the spring at Peoria, Ariz. “In my dreams, the players I admire the most, they stay on one team, they build a culture, and they become winners with that team. I’m over here trying to do the same.”
Tatis’ extension, trails only Mike Trout’s 12-year, $426.5 million pact with the Los Angeles Angels and Mookie Betts’ 12-year, $365 million extension with the Dodgers. However, the 14-year deal is the longest in terms of additional years ever signed by a player in baseball history, according to MLB.com.
Tatis, 22, won a Silver Slugger award after hitting .277 with 17 home runs and 45 RBIs in 59 games during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He finished fourth in National League Most Valuable Player voting behind the Atlanta Braves’ Freddie Freeman, Betts and Padres teammate Manny Machado.
His 39 home runs in 143 career games are the most by a primary shortstop in his first 150 games, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Tatis burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2019, when he hit .317 with 22 homers and 53 RBIs in 84 games. In two seasons, he has batted .301 with 98 RBIs, 27 steals and 111 runs.
In other words, if he intends to live up to Jeter’s lofty status, he is off to a fine start.
“He’s got a chance to set his mark by winning World Series,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said. “It starts with one, and then you build on that.”