A lot has changed in the seven years to date since A.J. Preller and the San Diego Padres acquired Fernando Tatis Jr. in a trade that sent James Shields to the Chicago White Sox.
For starters, time has told us that this will go down as a master stroke of a move by the Padres' front office. One that, in all likelihood, won't be repeated for a long time.
On this date seven years ago, the San Diego Padres acquired Fernando Tatis Jr. from the Chicago White Sox
Trading away a declining veteran starter with a hefty financial obligation in Shields was a small victory for the then-rebuilding Padres. Unfortunately, though, it came at the steep price of having to pay the White Sox to off-load him. The sacrifice paid off in retrospect, as we know. And paid off in spades.
Since debuting in 2019, Fernando Tatis Jr. has quickly emerged as one of baseball's most dynamic (and polarizing) personalities. In addition to his stellar on-field production, with a career .945 OPS and 155 OPS+, Tatis Jr. has also seen his fair share of stumbling blocks, most notably with injuries and a recent PED suspension that cost him any chance of returning to game action last year.
These are the peaks and valleys of superstardom, but the 24-year-old's rapid ascension is ultimately what led the Padres to lock him in for 14 years and $340 million prior to the 2021 season. And if he keeps producing at a level even remotely close to his career averages, Tatis Jr. will have been worth the trouble.
No matter what comes next for the Padres, the bar has been set to the maximum height possible after pulling off a heist on this date in 2016. This is a both a blessing and a curse for a GM like A.J. Preller, who revels in wheeling and dealing. As we've seen over the years, it's been difficult for Preller to repeat his successes consistently, let alone one as massive as this trade.
We'll give Preller this: he keeps Padres fans on their toes, for better or for worse. For now, though, only time will tell if Preller can snag his next Tatis Jr.