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Elephant Rumblings: Padres sign Fernando Tatis Jr to 3rd-richest contract in MLB history

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Division Series - San Diego Padres v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Two Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Good morning, Athletics Nation!

The Oakland A’s made serious headlines this week, signing two more free agents including an eight-figure salary for closer Trevor Rosenthal. But they weren’t the only team to make a significant transaction.

The San Diego Padres locked up a central piece of their long-term future by signing shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr to a 14-year contract that guarantees him $340 million along with a full no-trade clause. The 22-year-old is now committed to the club through his age-35 season.

The contract shatters one MLB record, as the biggest extension for a pre-arbitration player, at nearly $200 million more than the runner-up (Mike Trout). It’s also sets a new mark as the longest pact the league has seen, at 14 years. And it’s the third-richest deal of any kind in major league history, trailing just two other recent mega-extensions and exceeding every free agent ever.

  1. $365 million, Mookie Betts, 12 years (LAD)
  2. $360 million, Mike Trout, 10 years (LAA)
  3. $340 million, Fernando Tatis Jr, 14 years (SDP)
  4. $330 million, Bryce Harper, 13 years (PHI)
  5. $325 million, Giancarlo Stanton, 13 years (MIA to NYY)
  6. $324 million, Gerrit Cole, 9 years (NYY)
  7. $300 million, Manny Machado, 10 years (SDP)
  8. $275 million, Alex Rodriguez, 10 years (NYY)
  9. $252 million, Alex Rodriguez, 10 years (TEX to NYY)
  10. $248 million, Miguel Cabrera, 8 years (DET)

The annual value falls short of several others, which is to be expected since it’s buying out a minimum-salary season at the beginning and then a few winters of cost-controlled arbitration. But it’s still a historically massive outlay, and gives San Diego a second current entry on the above Top 10 list.

It’s a hell of a gamble for the Padres, who are suddenly acting like a big-budget club the last couple years. Tatis has still only played 143 games in the majors, not even one full season. But he’s already been worth around 7 WAR in that time, with an absurd 150 wRC+ at a premium defensive position, and he’s nowhere near reaching his prime yet on the traditional arc. If anyone deserves this kind of extreme early confidence, it’s him.

Tatis is already one of the best players in the sport, with a 4th-place MVP finish and a Silver Slugger on his resume, and he has all the tools to continue blossoming into the next generational superstar. Whatever happens on his journey, it’ll come in San Diego, where the Padres are doing their best impression of the division rival Dodgers’ extravagant but effective spending.

A’s Coverage

MLB News & Interest

MLB Transactions

In case you’ve had trouble keeping up with the last two months weeks of the A’s offseason

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