On the eve of Spring Training, the best young team in baseball has locked up one of the sport’s best young players for the next 14 years. Fernando Tatis Jr., 22, agreed to a 14-year contract extension worth $340 million with the San Diego Padres, according to MLB.com.
The $340 million extension is the third-longest contract in MLB history, trailing only recent deals signed by Mike Trout and Mookie Betts. Tatis was still a year away from reaching arbitration, and the Padres could have kept him away from free agency for another three seasons. But now, he has a full no-trade clause, a signing bonus worth more than $10 million, and a guaranteed deal through the 2034 season.
Tatis was an MVP candidate in 2020 as the Padres returned to the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. The shortstop hit .277/.366/.571 with 17 home runs and 11 steals, ultimately finishing fourth in the MVP race. His home runs fueled the Padres Wild Card Series comeback against the St. Louis Cardinals and led them into the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
As Spring Training begins, Tatis is +850 to win the National League MVP, with teammate Manny Machado also in the top 10 at +1500. Only Betts (+750), Juan Soto (+750), and Cody Bellinger (+800) have better odds than Tatis to win the award in 2021.
The Padres are behind the Dodgers in odds of winning the NL West, National League pennant, and World Series. San Diego is +200 to win the division to the Dodgers’ -250 and +390 to win the pennant with their rivals at +175.
The Padres have never won the World Series and are +800 to do so this season. The Dodgers are favorites at +350, and the New York Yankees are next at +550.
The Padres starting lineup should be the same in 2021 as it was in 2020, with infielder Ha-Seong Kim added to the bench from South Korea, and catcher Victor Caratini, who was acquired in a trade with the Chicago Cubs. That trade also brought in pitcher Yu Darvish to co-anchor the rotation with newcomer Blake Snell.
Snell was acquired in December in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays, while pitcher Joe Musgrove joined the Padres in a January trade. Relievers Mark Melancon and Keone Kela are new to the bullpen for a San Diego team looking to keep up with the Dodgers.
Rays Make Two Trades
The Tampa Bay Rays made two trades on Wednesday in an attempt to shore up their bullpen on the eve of camp opening. They sent two minor leaguers to AL East rival Boston Red Sox for left-hander Jeffrey Springs and right-hander Chris Mazza. They also traded reliever John Curtiss to the Miami Marlins for first-base prospect Evan Edwards.
Springs posted a 7.08 ERA in 2020 with the Red Sox and has a career ERA of 5.42 in 59 outings. Mazza’s ERA was 4.80 last year as he struck out 29 batters in nine outings with six starts. He pitched for the Mets in 2019 and could be a starter or a long reliever for the Rays.
The Rays lost starters Charlie Morton (free agency – Atlanta) and Blake Snell (trade to San Diego) this off-season while adding starters Rich Hill, Chris Archer, Collin McHugh, and Michael Wacha. Wacha and Archer are both coming off injuries, while McHugh opted out of 2020.
The defending American League champions are +350 to win the AL East in 2021, with the Yankees the favorites at -200. The Rays are +850 to return to the World Series with the Yankees (+230), Chicago White Sox (+380), and Minnesota Twins (+750) ahead of them. The Rays are +2500 to win the World Series, tied with the St. Louis Cardinals and Houston Astros for the 10th-best odds.