Shields was signed to a hefty contract as the Padres revamped their team in the offseason with other big-time names, including Matt Kemp. However, as the season started to take a turn for the worst, the Padres from office ended up in a fire-sale.
Destined to shed some of Shields’ massive salary, the Padres found a trade partner in the Chicago White Sox.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) June 4, 2016
At the time, the trade felt like a huge loss on the part of San Diego. After inking Shields to a four-year deal worth $75 million– then the largest free-agent contract in team history– they cut their ties and called it a loss.
Five years later, the trade has worked out swimmingly well for the Padres. Tatis has blossomed into a superstar and the perceived face of baseball. The Padres gave him a massive extension of 14 years and $340 million in the offseason, essentially tying him to America’s Finest City for his entire career.
“He was a guy they felt like had a big ceiling with big upside, the type of player that could be a foundational piece and turn this thing around,” AJ Preller said in an interview with Ben and Woods on Friday morning.
The ceiling and upside have definitely shown in just a few years for the young, star shortstop in San Diego. As for Tatis, he couldn’t believe he was traded. After all, he had yet to appear in a professional game.
“I thought they were joking, I thought they were playing with me,” Tatis Jr. said reminiscing about the trade. “I remember they passed me the phone and it was AJ and he told me ‘ Hey, you’re coming to the Padres.”
On the other side, Shields hit rock bottom for the White Sox. Over the next two-plus seasons, Shields went 16-35, including a career-worst 6.77 ERA in 2016. After that, he disappeared from the league, and now Tatis Jr. is thriving in every facet of the game for a Padres’ squad that has legitimate World Series chances.
Tatis has flourished in just over two seasons at the big league level. In his first year, he battled injuries and played in just 84 games. In 2020 he played in 59 games due to the COVID-19 shortened MLB season as the Padres returned to the playoffs. Now in 2021, Tatis is tied for the major league lead in home runs with 17 in just 40 games.
In a total of 183 major league games, Tatis has 56 home runs with 137 RBIs and a .301 batting average, which is truly remarkable considering he is barely 22 years old and should only continue to mash baseballs as he improves across the facets of the game.
He’s quickly become the face of the league and was the cover athlete on MLB The Show video game. He is a national treasure, no matter which teams somebody roots for, and an absolute joy to watch as he does marvelous things on the diamond on a nightly basis.
From 2016 until now, Fernando Tatis Jr. has become a bonafide superstar and the face of the San Diego Padres for the next decade.