The San Diego Padres agreed to hand Fernando Tatis Jr. $340 million over the next 14 years in exchange for his baseball services. However, it goes deeper than that.
Fernando Tatis Jr., A.J. Preller, and company agreed to the longest deal in baseball history, 14 years, $340 million to be exact.
If everything goes according to plan, Tatis will be wearing brown and gold until at least 2035. To put that in perspective, Albert Pujols will be 55 years old. Tom Brady will be 58 (and likely parading around with his 15th Super Bowl with the London Jaguars). Quite simply, Tatis will be synonymous with the Padres’ brown pinstripes and Petco Park and baseball in San Diego.
Yes, of course, his production on the field and his career trajectory, being just 22 years old, was the main motivation for such a gaudy contract. Tatis has the second-highest career OPS through his age-21 season in baseball history, surrounded by guys like the aforementioned Pujols, Cody Bellinger, Eddie Mathews, and Alex Rodriguez. That’s a Hall of Fame path, health willing. El Niño is already fourth in franchise history in fWAR for a shortstop at 6.5, just 2.5 short of the franchise’s all-time fWAR leader for the position, Khalil Greene, at 9.0, who played over 500 more games in San Diego than Tatis to this point.
With a minimum of 600 plate appearances over the last two seasons, he is first among shortstops in OPS (.970) and wRC+ (149). His defense skyrocketed in 2020, tying for first in Outs Above Average among infielders at 7, and was, frankly, a total snub for the shortstop Gold Glove in the National League. His contact metrics are of a different dimension, with his barrel percentage, exit velocity, and hard-hit rates all in the 100th percentile in 2020. All while having the 10th-fastest sprint speed in baseball and stealing 27 bases in less than a full season’s worth of games. Five tools might be underselling his game.
Plus, he is a good guy who is beloved in the clubhouse. Truly, the Padres can build a perennial winner around Tatis at shortstop.
The money the Padres threw at Tatis goes beyond the stats you find on baseball cards and from whatever website you grab baseball stats.
Fernando Tatis Jr. is the most marketable baseball player since Ken Griffey Jr. His infectious smile, confident humility, a flair for the dramatic, utter disregard for stiff, crusty unwritten rules in the game all make him what many other truly great players in baseball just are not- marketable. In fact, he is one of the most marketable athletes in the world today. He has a face that could fit right in on the cover of Sports Illustrated (been there, done that), GQ, Men’s Health, Forbes. You name it. And he just so happens to play for the San Diego Padres. Imagine how valuable that is to a franchise like the Padres, who have given their fans very little to cheer for over 52 years in everything this side of Tony Gwynn. A franchise, who, for the majority of their existence, jettisoned talented players the second they become “expensive” by their meager standards. Imagine the revenue that will rage on down into the franchise’s bank accounts like a post-volcanic eruption lahar just because one of the most marketable athletes in sports wears gold and brown.
Tatis already has endorsement deals with major companies like Gatorade and Adidas. He has already appeared in national commercials for big companies like BMW. Now, large corporations should be lining up at his door to get him to display their product.
New #Sportsbiz read: “Joining the family, Michael Jordan and all those big names, the brand speaks for itself. It’s just great all the way around” Fernando Tatis Jr. told me@Gatorade finds its new Derek Jeter in signing young #Padres star #Yankees #MLB https://t.co/mPIh5YkJPh
— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) December 17, 2020
It was announced earlier this month that Tatis would be the featured cover athlete of the widely popular baseball video game MLB The Show 21. That in of itself brings in money and acclaim to the Padres organization (not to mention a puppet made to his likeness). The team name “PADRES” across Tatis’ chest will be plastered on every copy of that game from coast to coast (aside from the special edition cover featuring Jackie Robinson). The 2020 version was the 18th-best selling video game in all the country for the calendar year. Most imagine that will only increase with the Dominican Republic native’s face on it with his now-iconic bat flip from the 2020 Wild Card Series plus the game moving to other platforms like Xbox for the first time ever.
From superstar to cover star. Fernando Tatis Jr. is here to change the game.
— MLB (@MLB) February 1, 2021
This contract is enormous for baseball. For Tatis. For the Padres. It gives Tatis the sense of financial security any young athlete aspires to, making him one of the richest men in American sports. It guarantees the Padres will have one of the best players in baseball taking the field for them every day for nearly a decade and a half as they try ever harder for that elusive first World Series title. This deal could also attract possible free agents in the future who want to play with the star shortstop and strive for championships in San Diego. The Padres’ willingness to spend and treat their stars right will not go unnoticed across the league.
Everyone wants a piece of Tatis now, including fans. It was announced that Tatis was the fourth-hottest selling jersey in Major League Baseball in 2020. Expect him to climb that ranking in 2021 as this has truly been the “Offseason of Tatis.” The Padres certainly did themselves a favor long before all of this hoopla by finally listening to the Friar Faithful who long had pined for the return of the brown. Not only did they bring it back, they brought it back in style, literally. Their new uniforms are essentially perfect. Whether you prefer the pinstripes, be it on the home white set or the unique alternate sand kit, or the full brown top and bright gold lettering of the road jersey, everyone will want to buy one donning No. 23. Finally, the fans can buy a jersey of a player and know he won’t be traded two days after they spent hundreds of dollars for his jersey. That means even more money to the Padres as fans flood their shops physically and virtually for the hottest Tatis merch.
They didn’t shell out all this cash, not expecting to earn it back in some form over the years. The Friars are now ninth in the league in payroll and are spending like one of the big boys. Padres owner Peter Seidler said this is not a small-market team, and the franchise is backing that up. Tatis is an investment that will pay dividends for both sides for years to come. Indeed, it truly is an investment. These are businessmen and women running the show at the top of the franchise, and their main goal is what’s on that bottom line.
And the bottom line is- Tatis, who he is, what he stands for, sells like hotcakes.