Fernando Tatis Jr. has 340 million reasons to be thankful to be a Padre

K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune

Fernando Tatis Jr.'s extension means that we've now seen the four richest contracts in MLB history signed in the past three off seasons.

Tatis' extension is worth $340 million over the next 14 years, and is the third richest contract in league history. Mike Trout still owns the biggest MLB contract at $426.5 million signed in 2019. Mookie Betts owns the second richest contract in league history that will earn him $365 million that he inked with the Dodgers in 2020.



Tatis is only 22 years old however and isn't coming with a long track record of success in the league so there is some inherent risk in this move by the Padres organization. To compare, Trout and Betts were both 27 when they signed their mega-deals. However, Tatis has burst onto the MLB scene since his debut and has been a driving force behind the Padres becoming must-watch TV.

The young squad earned the moniker Slam Diego as the team increased their team home run ranking from 20th in 2019 (Tatis' rookie season) to 4th in 2020. Tatis only played in 84 games during his rookie season due to a lower back injury that forced the team to shut him down for the year. He still managed to finish third in NL Rookie of the Year voting finishing with a .317 batting average, 22 home runs, and 53 runs batted in.

To follow up on his stellar rookie performance Tatis continued to progress in his second MLB campaign in the truncated 2020 season. In the 60 game season Tatis slashed his way to a .277 batting average with 17 homers, 45 RBI, 50 runs scored and 11 steals and he finished fourth in NL MVP voting trailing only Mookie Betts, his teammate Manny Machado, and the eventual winner of the award Freddie Freeman.

Pretty good company to keep.

The Padres made it to the playoffs last year for the first time in 14 seasons. Much of that was due to the explosive offense led by Machado and Tatis (now both with $300 million contracts). Tatis made the most of his playoff experience as he hit .318, smashed two homers, drove in five runs, and scored five runs himself in San Diego's matchups against the Cardinals and Dodgers in the 2020 postseason.

San Diego fell just short of a World Series appearance last year, and the organization must feel like they are within striking distance of bringing a championship to Pacific Beach as they've been very active this offseason bringing in two all star caliber arms in Blake Snell and Yu Darvish. The Padres had spent the better part of a decade and a half floating up and down the standings in the NL West which allowed them to acquire a lot of high level talent in their farm system through the draft. The team in turn used a lot of those assets in acquiring Snell and Darvish in trades, but the results in San Diego owning one of the best looking starting rotations in baseball in 2021, and an even better one in 2022.

Darvish, who was once thought to be washed up, revitalized his career in Chicago with the Cubs and he finished second in NL Cy Young award voting last season. Darvish has returned to his dominant form we saw from him early on in his career with the Texas Rangers. Snell, a Cy Young winner himself in 2018, has to be excited to join a team with the kind of offense the Padres will be toting out there as his 3.24 career ERA should be good enough to get him close to that 21 win mark he had during his Cy Young year.

They will be joined by Mike Clevinger in 2022 when he returns from Tommy John surgery which must make the team's old ace, Dinelson Lamet, pretty happy considering the amount of pressure that is taken off his shoulders with all the help hitting the team's rotation. It doesn't appear that the Padres have many weaknesses heading into this season. One knock on them was they didn't have a clear closer at the end of their bullpen, but the recent signing of veteran reliever, Mark Melancon, should put those questions to bed.

We're all excited to see the next installment of the Slam Diego series, but now that the left side of their infield is worth nearly three quarters of a billion dollars, there are going to be some hefty expectations for this young team to live up to. If you didn't have a reason to watch Tatis and the Padres this season, now you have 340 million of them.

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Isaiah Stewart Forward/Center Detroit Pistons

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