SAN DIEGO (AP) – In discussing options for a long-term deal with electrifying shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., the San Diego Padres brought up the concept of a “statue contract.”
Which means, if the kid is as good as Hall of Famers Tony Gwynn and Trevor Hoffman, maybe in 15 or 20 years there will be a statue of “El Niño” alongside the other great Padres on the grass. next to Petco Park.
The options were year-over-year, a multi-year deal that would buy them time for Tatis’s free agency or a contract that would allow Tatis to stay with the Padres for possibly the rest of his career.
“In the style of Tati, his only comment was ‘Why not my entire career?'” Said general manager AJ Preller on Monday announcing that both parties had finalized the $ 340 million, 14-year contract, the longest. long in Major League history.
“He wanted to be one of those unique players who played his entire career in one place,” said Preller. “He loves the franchise, he loves the city, he loves his teammates and he talked about really wanting something in the way of the statue contract.”
Tatis said: “I want the statue in one team. I want to have the opportunity to stay in a team and build a legacy in San Diego. “
If Tatis and the Padres are correct, the big decision will be which version of “El Niño” the statue will have.
“I’ll put the numbers first and then we can discuss it,” Tatis laughed at a video conference at spring training in Peoria, Arizona. “I do not know. Maybe we could have three statues in different shapes. We’ll see what happens ”.
Tatis, 22, could have requested arbitration at the end of this season and would have been released in late 2024.
The son of former Major League Baseball infielder Fernando Tatis, he has played just 143 games in two seasons, including the shortened campaign due to the pandemic, yet he has still become one of the faces of baseball.
He stands out for his style, his easy smile, his blonde dreadlocks under his cap and his dances in the dugout after a home run.
Most important to the Padres, Tatis has made baseball enjoyable again in San Diego after years of inanity. He helped end a 13-year postseason drought in 2020 and win a wild-card series against the St. Louis Cardinals before the Padres swept the NL division series to the Dodgers.
“I am the same boy in the field. Nothing is going to change, ”he said. “I am playing the game that I love. When you do things with passion and love, I think it rewards you ”.
Tatis is hitting .301, with 39 home runs, 98 RBIs and 27 steals on base in 143 games.
The length of his contract exceeds the $ 325 million, 13-year contract that Giancarlo Stanton signed with Miami in November 2014 (Stanton later went to the Yankees, who took over the contract) and the $ 330 million, 13-year contract. by Bryce Harper with the Phillies, signed in 2019.
The highest paid player in history remains Mike Trout, who signed for 12 years and $ 426.5 million with the Angels in March 2019.