Tatis Jr. signing; Tebow retires
By Joe Frisaro/Man on Second Baseball
Talk about having a reason to bat flip!
Fernando Tatis Jr., one of the young faces of Major League Baseball, has just knocked it out of the park with his pending mega contract extension. Tatis and San Diego Padres fans certainly have reason to admire this significant signing.
The 22-year-old shortstop sensation has agreed to an exorbitant contract extension worth $340 million of 14 years.
Tatis was smack in the center of “Slam Diego” mania, and is one of MLB’s must-see stars.
The pending signing puts a bold exclamation point on a busy off-season for the Padres as they take aim on trying to unseat the defending World Series champion Dodgers in the National League West.
With another $300 million contract on the market, attention will invariably turn to what with the Washington Nationals do with their outfield star, Juan Soto? Both Tatis and Soto are 22, with Soto turning 23 on Oct. 28.
Closer to Florida, the Tampa Bay Rays have the consensus top prospect in the sport, switch-hitting shortstop Wander Franco.
Franco, who turns 20 on March 1, has been invited to big league camp, and projections have him making his MLB debut sometime in 2021. The Rays have been known to lock up their young talent early, with either limited or no previous MLB experience. Brandon Lowe, for instance, signed a six-year deal (2019-24) worth at least $24 million and up to $49 million.
Franco is considered a generational talent, and will be in line for a huge payday, either sooner or later.
Tim Tebow is hanging up his baseball cleats.
The announcement, which came on Wednesday, naturally was met with mixed reviews. Supporters praised his desire to pursue a baseball career after he transitioning from football. Critics claimed his signing by the Mets in 2017 as a gimmick to sell tickets. There’s merits in both stances, but my take on Tebow is, he remains a positive influence. If he introduced baseball to lukewarm fans, then his presence in the Mets’ system was well worth it.
I don’t really buy the argument that he took away a roster spot for another Minor Leaguer. Tebow wasn’t blocking any realistic prospect, who may have missed out on a few at-bats in Spring Training games.
The past few years, several times I saw Tebow when the Mets faced the Mets in Grapefruit League games. Tebow made some of the trips to Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium in Jupiter, Fla., often in place of regular players or other prospects not scheduled to be on the bus ride.
Teams have so much work going on in backfields, players are getting their at-bats.
For Tebow, the timing actually is good to close out his baseball career. Personally, he reached as high as Triple-A, and the results weren’t great — .163 batting average in 77 games in 2019.
As part of the revised Minor League system, teams have fewer affiliates, and there are strict pandemic protocols that all players are abiding by.
Whatever Tebow embarks on next, I’m sure, the former Heisman Trophy winner will draw plenty of attention.
I still think there is a decent chance MLB will have a universal designated hitter in 2021. For now, National League teams have been directed to prepare as if pitchers will hit and there will be no DH this year. But history has shown us that things can change. MLB wants expanded playoffs, and the universal DH is likely to be part of the next collective bargaining agreement. I wouldn’t be shocked if MLB and the MLB Players Association come to an agreement before Opening Day.