If you had the Padres in the pool for the first team to award two $300 million contracts, go collect.
San Diego and its superstar shortstop, Fernando Tatis Jr., reached agreement on a 14-year, $340 million contract. It is the third-largest contract ever given (behind Mike Trout and Mookie Betts) and the seventh ever given of $300 million or more, which also includes the guy who plays third base next to Tatis, Manny Machado.
The Yankees have two of the $300 million-plus players, Gerrit Cole and Giancarlo Stanton, but Stanton received his contract from the Marlins. Besides, they are the Yankees. This is the Padres, who are now just under $200 million for luxury tax purposes in 2021, screaming yet again:
1. They are in it to win it. San Diego traded for starters Yu Darvish, Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove. They now have an infield (Tatis, Machado, Ha-Seong Kim and Eric Hosmer) with $812 million invested in it. The Chargers are long gone, leaving the Padres as the only major sports team in San Diego and they are acting in a big-market fashion as they try to outdo the defending champion Dodgers. These are probably the two most talented rosters in the majors and they play 19 times in 2021 to decide the NL West — and maybe much more.
2. Tatis was not even arbitration-eligible until next offseason. He turned 22 last month. But he already has established himself as one of the game’s best players (fourth in the NL MVP voting last year) — and most marketable. He would have been a free agent at 25. This allows the Padres to secure a brilliant player for less on average annually than George Springer through his age-35 season.
3. Think about how much the Braves saved by signing Ronald Acuna to an eight-year, $100 million pact in April 2019 after just one season. Now imagine what the Nationals’ Juan Soto is going to cost. Soto also is just 22 and also is looking at age-25 free agency. He already might be the majors’ best hitter.
4. Tatis received the largest contract ever for a shortstop. The previous was $252 million for Alex Rodriguez (he also got $275 million as a third baseman). It creates a benchmark for the great upcoming shortstop free agent class of Francisco Lindor, Javier Baez, Carlos Correa, Corey Seager and Trevor Story. All of them are older than Tatis, but they also have longer track records. Would Lindor, say, seek 10 years at $350 million (or more) from the Mets to sign before free agency?
5. Did we mention this is San Diego flexing financial might? The Padres are raising their payroll for a fourth straight year, roughly doubling it since 2017. This at a time when most other clubs are cutting. The Padres, under GM A.J. Preller, built a powerful farm system to position themselves to make trades this offseason, but the best trade of all for these Padres was June 4, 2016, when they dealt fading starter James Shields to the White Sox for a 17-year-old in his first season in pro ball.
On Wednesday, they guaranteed that now 22-year-old $340 million.