Fernando Tatis Jr. discussed his rookie year with the San Diego Padres that was cut short by a back injury and the potential for a long-term extension.
Health and consistency were the keywords iterated by Fernando Tatis Jr. when he reminisced about his first year with the San Diego Padres. His rookie year was cut short by a back injury, but the then 20-year-old still slashed .317/.379/.590 with 13 doubles, 22 home runs, and 53 RBI in just 84 games.
The rookie sensation spoke with Annie Heilbrunn of the San Diego Union-Tribune about how he’s approaching year two in the big leagues:
"“I saw a little bit of what I’m capable of and that’s a good thing,” Tatis Jr. told Heilbrunn. “You know, it’s even more motivation to keep going and keep pushing and showing people what I got.”"
He also touched on the priority of making adjustments in 2020 as the league now has the film on him. Tatis Jr. indicated that he was in a good place last year, but was hindered by the back injury and has spent the offseason making his core stronger.
Heilbrunn also mentioned the idea of a potential long-term extension, despite it being just his second year in the big leagues. When asked if it was something that he thinks about, it seems that Tatis Jr. is open and willing to stay long-term:
"“I fell in love with the city. I love San Diego, I love the fans, you know how they have embraced me. So I would love to stay there long-term and let’s see what happens.”"
It’s not uncommon for teams to lock-up their young talent to team-friendly deals. The Chicago White Sox are a prime example of a team who has done an excellent job doing so, signing both Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert to extensions before they ever took a Major League at-bat.
There is a considerable amount of risk in doing so, but it also makes them more tradeable should they need a fresh start elsewhere or be uprooted by another prospect.
A six or seven-year extension would certainly seem plausible, which would make Tatis Jr. eligible for a massive payday when he’s 27 or 28. He’s a critical piece to the Padres for the foreseeable future, so it would seem foolish for General Manager AJ Preller not to present a six-year deal between $50 and $75 million (based on Jimenez and Robert’s) extension with a couple of club options at the back end.
Fangraphs projects a big year for the now 21-year-old, posting a .273/.341/.498 line with 29 home runs and 76 RBI (117 wRC+), so early this year or at the end of the season would likely make sense for a potential long-term deal.