SAN DIEGO — The Padres hope to never have to see Fernando Tatis Jr. play a game in another uniform.
The team and it’s wonderkid shortstop took a giant step toward that aim on Wednesday by agreeing to terms on a 14-year contract, according to multiple sources.
The deal is worth $340 million and is the longest in MLB history.
Tatis, who turned 22 on Jan. 2 and has two years of service, has yet to play the equivalent of a full season. But he finished fourth in National League MVP voting in 2020 after batting .277 with a .937 OPS (on-base-plus slugging percentage).
In 143 games since the start of the 2019 season, Tatis has a .301 average and .956 OPS. Those are numbers that compare favorably to the best players in history at that point in their careers. Tatis’ OPS, for example, is one point lower than Lou Gehrig through his first 143 games and 10 points higher than that of Mike Trout.
His defense at shortstop was spectacular from the start and last year evened out to become more consistent. He led all shortstops and was second in the majors last season with seven outs above average, a metric that ostensibly measures how many outs a player has saved compared to an average player at his position.
The Padres and Tatis anticipated this pact for several months. The sides agreed during the summer they would begin serious talks in the offseason.
Padres general manager A.J. Preller visited the Dominican Republic shortly after the new year and told Tatis he would soon be opening discussions with the player’s agent. The Padres made their first formal offer at the end of January.
Preller and Dan Lozano, Tatis’ agent, spoke regularly over the next couple weeks, discussing parameters and trading proposals. Tatis reported to the Peoria Sports Complex on Sunday, and there was optimism all around the sides were close to a deal.
Finally, on Wednesday, after a few more proposals sent back and forth on the complicated pact, the team informed Lozano the latest terms they had discussed were agreeable.
While exact terms are not known, Tatis’ contract is far longer and richer than notable pacts given to other top young players in recent years. Most such contracts have generally extended just two or three seasons into a player’s free agency year.
Ronald Acuña Jr. got an eight-year, $100 million deal in 2019, when he was 21, after he had played less than a season. Alex Bregman, then 25, received a five-year, $100 million contract in ’19 after he played two-plus seasons. Trout, 22 at the time, was awarded six years and $144 million in 2014 after he had played two-plus seasons.