That year, as a 20-year-old rookie, he hit .317/.379/.590 with 22 home runs and 16 stolen bases in just 84 games.
He’s a tantalizing talent, and that has been evident since he stepped on a baseball field.
After another phenomenal showing in the 2020 shortened campaign (he slashed .277/.366/.571 and hit 17 homers in just 59 contests) and before his scintillating 2021, the Padres signed him to a mammoth contract extension.
A Huge Deal
Tatis put pen to paper on a 14-year, $340 million deal that will pay him an average of $24,285,714 per year.
He made $1 million in 2021, and will make $5 million, $7 million, and $11 million in 2022, 2023, and 2024, respectively.
The payment scale will go up to $20 million in 2025 and 2026, then $25 million in 2027 and 2028.
For the last six years of the deal, he will make $36 million per season.
That’s the most he will make in a season: $36 million.
By the next decade, accounting inflation, $40 million or even $50 million salaries will be common.
The thing to remember about the Tatis contract is, if he performs and stays relatively healthy, he'll be a big bargain. Salaries always go up, and owners can afford to pay them.
— Jim Souhan (@SouhanStrib) February 18, 2021
Consider his 2021 performance: .282/.364/.611, 42 home runs, and 25 stolen bases in just 130 games.
He was a beast offensively, but subpar defense “limited” him to 6.1 WAR (Wins Above Replacement).
Even so, 6.1 WAR is elite territory, and that’s what Tatis is: an elite player.
So, considering his age (he just turned 23), performance level, and health, can Tatis live up´to his huge deal?
The answer is yes: he sure can.
In fact, he severely outperformed his salary in 2021.
For reference, FanGraphs calculates the value of a win above replacement at a little over $8 million in the open market.
Tatis posted 6.1 wins, so he “returned” $49.1 million in value last year.
The Contract Is A Bargain For The Padres
Again, this is just a reference, but the Padres paid $1 million and received $49.1 million in value according to the player’s performance.
That’s incredible return on investment.
If a disaster happens and Tatis gets injured or plays badly in 2022, he will need to put a little under 1.0 WAR to return the investment of San Diego, which will be $5 million.
Even if we consider the deal as a whole, Tatis is more than talented enough to “return” the whole value of his contract with just a few seasons of a similar level to what he showed in 2021.
In one season, he has returned $49.1 million.
If he performs similarly, which means 6.0 WAR or around that number, he will need six or seven seasons to pay for his contract.
He has 13 years left.
Of course, Tatis will be much, much better than his salary for the next seven years or so, barring serious injury, so he sacrifices current earnings in exchange for future security.
It’s also true that the Padres will probably have to pay $36 million per year to an aging Tatis that may or may not be returning that kind of value in his late thirties, but overall, it’s a great deal for both sides because Tatis, by that point, would have given the franchise many, many elite seasons.
Taking a moment to remind people the @padres got a bargain on that Tatis Jr. contract. He’s generational. He’s also the best thing to happen to MLB in years. Not since Griffey Jr. have I enjoyed a player this much.
— Carlo Cecchetto (@CarloCBS8) June 26, 2021
All things considered, he is so talented and exciting that he will make this deal look like a bargain if we consider the number of fans he puts in seats, the merchandise sold with his name, and lots of other factors that go beyond the diamond.