Padres: Why extending Fernando Tatis Jr. makes the most sense this offseason

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

According to a recent radio interview, the Padres will try to extend Fernando Tatis Jr. this offseason. What might his contract look like?

It was the topic entering the last offseason, but general manager AJ Preller was in a “wait and see” mode regarding extending Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. At the time, the 20-year-old had an injury-shortened rookie season but still managed to hit 22 HR with 53 RBI in 84 games. He also finished third in the NL’s Rookie of the Year voting.

Flash forward a year, and the 21-year-old put the baseball world on notice, hitting 17 bombs with 45 RBI in only 59 games. He remained healthy all year long, and the improvements in his defense don’t get talked about enough either.

Padres writer for The Athletic, Dennis Lin, jumped on the Darren Smith Show on Thursday to discuss the rumors about Tatis’ willingness to talk about a long-term contract extension. Right now, he’s under team control through the 2024 season, but extending him this offseason could save the Padres some money in the long run.

“They’re still not sure they will this offseason, but they’re going to try,” Lin said. “Maybe structure a deal as to a way that wouldn’t really hurt moneywise upfront, and then that could give you more flexibility to do other things…If they’re going to extend him for 7 or 8 years, and the first two-to-three years aren’t that heavy, you still have to factor in the money coming in on the back end. But they do have some flexibility in the near future.”

Lin noted that Eric Hosmer‘s contract will drop in a couple of years, down from $21M to $13M starting in 2023. Wil Myers will also come off the books after the 2022 season, although the club has a $20M option for 2023.

But the way I see it, every offseason that passes, Tatis will only cost the Padres more money. With contracts continuing to break previous highs, extending El Nino right now will be the most affordable way for the Padres to tweak other areas of the roster in the future.

Let’s say they wait another year or two. Looking at the trajectory Tatis is on, he could very well have a couple of NL MVP’s under his belt along with the stats to back a top-tier contract at the age of 23. Extending him this offseason at the suggested 7 or 8 years will keep him at a more affordable price until he becomes a free agent at 28 or 29.

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At that point, the Padres can reassess and extend him again. I see Tatis fetching an 8-year deal worth $200M ($25M AAV). That would put him in the Bryce Harper or Giancarlo Stanton yearly cost range, with the potential to exceed $40M+ when a potential contract extension expires.