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Fernando Tatis signs massive extension (14 years, $340 million)


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In baseball history (1871-2020) there have been 960 position players with at least 100 PA through their age 21 season. Tatis is 48th in WAR with 6.5. Meaning, he's exactly in the 95 percentile of 21 year olds.  But that doesn't really tell the whole truth as he was on pace for 7.4 WAR last year and finished with only 2.9 due to the short season. Let's be modest and say he would have ended up with 6.5 WAR, which would have put him at around 10 WAR for his career. There are 21 <22 year olds with 10+ fWAR, so it would have put him close to or in the top 20, or the 97.5 percentile.

The top 20 can grouped as follows (with career WAR):

Inner circle HOFers: Trout 75.7, Ott 110.5, Cobb 149.3, Hornsby 130.3, Williams 130.4, Mantle 112.3, Robinson 104.0, A Rod 113.7, Foxx 101.3, Matthews 96.1.

Solid HoFers: Kaline 88.9, Griffey 77.7, Vaughan 72.6, McGraw 48.9.

Hall of Very Good: Magee 63.4, Cedeno 49.8, A Jones 67.0, Pinson 47.3.

Active: Trout, Soto, Harper (also, Acuna, Correa, and Machado are just outside the top 20).

There are 20 players in major league history with at least 100 WAR. Barring global collapse, Trout will become the 21st. Of the above non-active players, a bit less than half (8 of 17) reached 100+ WAR. Trout will make it 9 of 18, or half. Meaning, while it is a small sample size, as a general rule, about half of 21 year olds with 10+ WAR will eventually go on to reach 100 WAR.

And of course 13 of 17 reached the Hall, and Jones and maybe Magee are borderline cases.

Cesar Cedeno often comes up as a cautionary tale of great young players having disappointing careers. His 14.9 WAR at age 21-22 is good for 8th best all-time, behind only Joe Jackson, Trout, Williams, Matthews, Cobb, Musial, and Foxx, and just ahead of Hornsby, Henderson and DiMaggio (but also A Jones).

But Cedeno is an outlier - most players who are great in their early 20s are at least pretty great for a long time after.

If we look at the truly great young players of the last decade, we get names like Trout, Harper, Correa, Soto, Acuna, Tatis, and Machado. We also get Jason Heyward, whose 11.8 WAR through age 22 was good for 40th best all-time. Through age 30 (2020) his 33.0 career WAR is 239th all-time. Meaning, he fell from being the 40th best 22-year old to the 239th best 30-year old. As mentioned, Cedeno went from having the 16th best age 22 career to 194th best overall career.

One more point in Tatis's favor: he's got 6.5 WAR in only 143 games, a hair less than a full season. I don't know how to figure this out, but assuming he gets to 7 by 162 games played, I imagine the list is very small and exclusive for players who reached 7 WAR by their 162nd game played.

The point being, while there is some risk involved in signing a very young player to a 14-year contract, it isn't a very great risk. Most players as good as Tatis has been at the age he is end up in the Hall of Fame, and about half become true all-time greats. All end up having very good careers. So a disappointing career for Tatis would be in the 40-60 WAR range, which is still a very good career. But chances are he ends up with 60+, and maybe much more than that.

One final note: Unlike any of the previously mentioned players, including the other active guys, Tatis has a 14-year mega-contract at the tender age of 22. Trout, Harper, and Machado signed their big contracts at least a few years older than that - and to be honest, we don't know how they're going to turn out. This may be a two-edged sword; we simply don't know the psychological effects such a contract will have on a young player, and specifically this player.

But if I'm a Padres fan, I'm happy - Tatis is worth the risk, and it is nice to have him wrapped up through his prime years. And as a bonus: he's only signed through age 35, so the decline phase will only be a small portion of it.

Edited by Angelsjunky
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I would have no problem if baseball did something like what Basketball did with contract limits, but I don’t think we will ever see that.  I don’t have a problem with this contract.  If the Angels had

Owners aren't going to spend money this off-season.

This is also buying out 4 years of club control.  So it's an extra 10 years.  He just turned 22, so it's to his 36 year.   This is also similar to the Trout deal where the Angels bought out 2 yea

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