It is really early, but at this point, Fernando Tatis Jr. is becoming more valuable than Mike Trout.
As the trade deadline looms, rumors are rampant, teams are scrambling, and fans get to enjoy the ride.
Every year, fans and pundits alike tend to send out make-believe trades. Most of them are so one-sided it’s comical. However, some are realistic and worth considering. This one here is not one of them. It’s highly unlikely the Padres would trade Tatis Jr., and there’s virtually zero chance the Angels deal Trout.
However, with all things considered, if I were the G.M. of the San Diego Padres, I would not trade Fernando Tatis Jr. for Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels. While the odds of this happening are extremely rare, let’s explore why Tatis has so much value presently.
20-year-old shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. has taken the San Diego baseball scene by storm.
He makes the most incredible plays look routine almost daily. Tatis is batting .325 on the year and has been leading the team for basically the entire year by over 30 points. Currently, the next closest hitter is Eric Hosmer with a .285 average. Tatis has an OBP of .389, slugging percentage of .595, and an OPS of .984.
The young Dominican also has 24 walks and 85 strikeouts on the year. All of those numbers, except the strikeouts, are amazing. Keep in mind he’s a rookie; the strikeouts will get better. For a player with his athleticism, he demonstrates an insane amount of power with 16 home runs and 41 RBIs currently.
Players that are as fast as Tatis, generally don’t hit the ball as far as he does. This is the same young man that scored on a sacrifice fly… to the second baseman. He’s stolen 14 of 17 bases and has the potential for a 20/20 season and could improve to 30/30 in time. His speed combined with his unrelenting effort result in extra runs and wins for the team. His WAR currently sits at 3.5 on the year, even with missing a month of baseball. He has a rocket arm, as Tatis was clocked throwing 94 mph to first base. He uses that arm strength to help him make amazing defensive plays. Throwing out runners from deep in the hole or up the middle from the grass, he makes it look easy. The young shortstop was once one of the top prospects in baseball and is now emerging as one of the game’s brightest young stars.
One could argue for another player, but Mike Trout is simply the best player in baseball. As good as Tatis is, there’s just no denying it, and it’s almost universally accepted. Currently batting .296, with a .443 OBP, a slugging percentage of .662 and an OPS of 1.105, he is a god among men. Gaudy numbers, to say the least. He also has 33 home runs, 81 RBIs and 80 walks; all three lead the league. This week, Mike Trout was clocked throwing 98.6 mph from centerfield to home for an outfield assist. His wRC+ is 186. His WAR currently sits at 6.6. The outfielder has always been the poster child for advanced metrics. His numbers are historical, and he is probably a sure-fire Hall of Famer. There’s not a team in baseball that wouldn’t want Mike Trout on their team, which is why the Angels just locked him up to a twelve-year/$430 million contract.
With all this said, Tatis Jr. is still more valuable (if he keeps up his current pace). He plays a more premium position, and that has a lot to do with it. If a general manager is building a new team, they will normally start with the shortstop position. Centerfield may be a close second or third, but undoubtedly shortstop is the premium position on the diamond. Ferando Tatis Jr. is also seven years younger than Trout. That is a huge factor when you are talking about the longterm value of a player. At this point, Tatis could be a Padre for 15 or more years. Of course, he will need at least one contract extension for that to happen.
If he continues his torrid play, Tatis is likely to command Trout money, or possibly even more. But for the rest of this year and the next five years, the Padres have Tatis controlled for very little, let’s say $60 million including his arbitration years. That means on average; the Padres will be paying the rookie minimum for a 4-5+ WAR player. Meanwhile, the Angels are paying Trout around $35 million for his 8-10 WAR per season. Tatis Jr. is capable of coming close to Trout’s numbers (with some luck) over the next two years as well.
Trout’s contract is for 12 years and will take him to age 39. Due to his track record of hard work, it can be assumed that Trout has the best chance of being worth the money in his later years. The Angels may be in the same situation that they are currently in with Albert Pujols. You are paying for the player for what they did, rather than what they will do. Nothing is a given in baseball. When Tatis Jr. signs his next contract, he will likely be around age 25. If San Diego signed him to a ten-year deal at that point, he would still only be 35 years of age at the end of the contract’s lifespan.
With Fernando Tatis Jr. in the lineup for potentially the next 20 years, the Padres will get more value and more bang for the buck, than the Angels will get for Mike Trout. Now all Tatis has to do, is continue his current pace.