Fernando Tatis Jr. Agrees to 14-Year, $340 Million Contract Extension with San Diego Padres

Fernando Tatis Jr. is a big deal… with a big deal…

The 22-year-old Dominican professional baseball shortstop, nicknamed “El Niño“, has agreed to a 14-year, $340 million contract extension with the San Diego Padres, securing one of the largest guarantees in American sports history and marrying himself to the team with which he quickly established himself as a star, according to ESPN.

Fernando Tatis Jr.

Tatis, the emerging face of baseball, will receive the third-biggest deal in baseball history — and do so at a far younger age than Mike Trout and Mookie Betts, both of whom signed their megadeals at 27.

The 6-foot-3, 217-pound Tatis, whose dazzling shortstop play is perhaps exceeded by his prowess at the plate, went to San Diego via trade and is now the player around whom the Padres will build a team equipped to win a championship.

Full of substance to back up his style, Tatis blitzed through the minor leagues after the Padres acquired him from the Chicago White Sox in a deal for aging starter James Shields. His talent in spring training was so apparent in 2019 that San Diego started him at shortstop on Opening Day, eschewing the standard play of sending supreme talents to the minor leagues to manipulate their service time and keep them under team control for an extra season.

The mutual admiration between the team and Tatis was clear enough that the Padres hoped it wouldn’t be a mistake. And with a deal that will lock him up for nearly a decade and a half, through his age-35 season, the Padres convinced Tatis that small-market San Diego is where he belongs.

Tatis wasn’t willing to relinquish control of that. He will receive a full no-trade clause, allowing him veto power over any potential deal. The $340 million marks the largest deal given to a player before he reaches arbitration — nearly $200 million more than Trout’s first contract extension. Trout’s second extension set a domestic sports record of $426.5 million guaranteed, and Betts’ $392 million deal is now followed by Tatis’ contract.

Tatis joins Manny Machado, who plays third base next to him, as Padres with $300 million-plus deals — and they join New York Yankees duo Gerrit Cole and Giancarlo Stanton as teammates with such gaudy contracts. Both Machado and Tatis are represented by agent Dan Lozano.

Machado’s agreement with San Diego before the 2019 season was a turning point for the organization, which has positioned itself as the greatest threat to the defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers, who happen to play in the Padres’ division. San Diego blossomed during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, with Tatis playing a front-and-center role after a dynamic rookie season that ended because of injury.

Hitting leadoff, with his trademark dreadlocked hair flowing out of his batting helmet and a bat flip at the ready, Tatis was the best player in the game for the first half of the season, an unstoppable combination of raw talent, polish and excitement, the sort that is evident even to the casual fan.

His appearances in more commercials — for Major League Baseball and products he was selling — illustrated that Tatis might be different than other would-be stars. The sport, starving for someone with wide appeal, struck gold with Tatis, who was raised in the Dominican Republic by his father, longtime major league infielder Fernando Tatis, and his mother, Maria.

Tatis wasn’t a highly touted prospect when he signed with the White Sox as a 16-year-old. The athleticism, the explosiveness, all of the skills he now wields — they were simply tools back then. Maybe they would arrive, maybe they wouldn’t.

San Diego saw something different — a player who, in his first year after signing, grew, gained muscle, started looking the part. After the trade, he grew another inch, then another, and by the time Tatis was embarrassing Double-A pitchers, he looked the part of a future star.

To become that so quickly, not just finishing fourth in the MVP voting in 2020 but compelling a team to guarantee $340 million, speaks to the Padres’ commitment to Tatis. They could have kept him for four more seasons before he reached free agency. Instead, after he hit .277/.366/.571 with 17 home runs and 45 RBIs in 59 games, they gave Tatis more than any free agent ever has received.

Talks between the sides picked up early this week, and sources familiar with the discussions expected a deal to get done. One of this size? One of this magnitude? Well, when Tatis does something, he tends to do it big.

Francisco Lindor Elected to Executive Subcommittee of Major League Baseball Players Association

Francisco Lindor is representing his fellow players…

The 27-year-old Puerto Rican Major League Baseball player, a shortstop for the Cleveland Indians, has been elected to the executive subcommittee of the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Francisco Lindor

Lindor joins a roster of newcomers to the executive subcommittee that includes New York Yankees pitchers Zack Britton and Gerrit Cole, free-agent catcher Jason Castro and free-agent shortstop Marcus Semien.

They join St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Andrew Miller, free-agent pitcher James Paxton and Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer on the union’s highest-ranking member body.

The newcomers replace Elvis AndrusCory GearrinChris IannettaCollin McHugh and Daniel Murphy on the executive subcommittee.

Lindor and Semien were elected alternate association player representatives, Britton a pension committee representative, and Cole an alternate pension committee representatives.

Britton, Cole, Paxton and Scherzer are clients of agent Scott Boras. Semien is represented by the Wasserman agency, Lindor by SportsMeter, Miller by Frontline Athlete Management and Castro by ISE Baseball.

Cole, at $324 million over eight years, and Scherzer, at $210 million over six seasons, are among baseball’s highest-paid players.

Britton has a $53 million, three-year deal and Miller a $34.5 million, three-year contract. Lindor is eligible for arbitration after making $17.5 million. Semien had a $13 million salary last season, Paxton $12.5 million and Castro $6.85 million.

Jose Abreu Named MLB’s American League MVP

Jose Abreu is this season’s American League star…

The 33-year-old Cuban professional baseball player, a first baseman for the Chicago White Sox, has won the American League MVP award after helping power the team to its first playoff berth in 12 years.

Jose Abreu

Abreu received 21 of 30 first-place votes and 374 points in voting announced by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez was second with eight first-place votes and 303 points, and New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who won the AL batting crown, followed with one first-place vote and 230 points. 

Voting by the BBWAA was completed by the start of the playoffs. It has voted for the award since 1931.

Abreu led the majors with 60 RBIs and 148 total bases, and topped the AL with 76 hits and a .617 slugging percentage. He played in all 60 games during the virus-shortened season as Chicago claimed a wild-card spot.

Surrounded by family members, Abreu put his head down for a minute after hearing he’d won and teared up.

“That was a very special moment,” he said through an interpreter.

Abreu batted .317 with 19 home runs, connecting six times in a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs in late August. That barrage of long balls at Wrigley Field was part of his 22-game hitting streak, the longest in the majors this year.

Abreu gave credit to manager Rick Renteria, who left the team after the season in what was described as a mutual decision. Recently hired Hall of Fame skipper Tony La Russa is now facing charges in a drunken driving arrest; Abreu said he was eager to play for La Russa.

“Keep pushing forward, keep moving forward,” Abreu said.

Abreu was the 2014 AL Rookie of the Year and is a three-time MLB All-Star. He became the fourth White Sox player to win the AL MVP, joining Frank Thomas (1993-94), Dick Allen (1972) and Nellie Fox (1959).

Abreu was the third Cuban-born player to be an MVP, along with Jose Canseco and Zoilo Versalles.

Ronald Acuna Jr. Earns Second Career Silver Slugger Award

There’s certainly a silver lining for Ronald Acuna Jr. 

The 22-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player is among four Atlanta Braves players to earn Silver Slugger Awards, which were unveiled Thursday by Major League Baseball in honor of the best offensive players at every position in each league.

Ronald Acuna Jr. 

Winning from the Braves were Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna, who each won the award for the second time, and first-time winner Travis d’Arnaud.

The Chicago White Sox led the American League with three Silver Sluggers: shortstop Tim Anderson, left fielder Eloy Jimenez and first baseman Jose Abreu, who won the award for the third time after batting .317 with 19 home runs and 60 RBIs.

It was the first honor for both Anderson and Jimenez.

Los Angeles Angels star outfielder Mike Trout received his eighth Silver Slugger Award after batting .281 with 17 home runs and 46 RBIs this season.

2020 Silver Slugger Winners

POS. AL NL
C Salvador Perez, Royals Travis d’Arnaud, Braves
1B Jose Abreu, White Sox Freddie Freeman, Braves
2B DJ LeMahieu, Yankees Donovan Solano, Giants
SS Tim Anderson, White Sox Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres
3B Jose Ramírez, Indians Manny Machado, Padres
OF Mike Trout, Angels Juan Soto, Nationals
OF Eloy Jimenez, White Sox Mookie Betts, Dodgers
OF Teoscar Hernandez, Blue Jays Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves
DH Nelson Cruz, Twins Marcell Ozuna, Braves

Minnesota Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz, New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu, Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez, Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Teoscar Hernandez rounded out the American League winners.

World Series champion and Los Angeles Dodgers star Mookie Betts, Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto, San Francisco Giants second baseman Donovan Solano and San Diego Padres teammates Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado completed the National League list.

Selections are based on a combination of offensive stats, including batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, in addition to the managers’ and coaches’ views of a player’s overall offensive value.

Manny Machado Named National League MVP Finalist

Manny Machado has proven his most valuable status…

The 28-year-old Dominican-American professional baseball player and San Diego Padres third baseman and shortstop has been named a finalist in the MLB’s National League MVP race.

Manny Machado

Machado, who hit .304 with 16 homers and 47 RBIs for the Padres this season, is nominated alongside Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts and Atlanta Braves star Freddie Freeman, after balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Meanwhile, New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom is going for his third consecutive National League Cy Young Award. He’s facing off Trevor Bauer and Yu Darvish for the honor.

The top three finishers for each BBWAA award were revealed Monday. The winners will be announced next week.

Balloting for the BBWAA awards was completed before the start of the postseason.

Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, Cleveland Indians infielder Jose Ramirez and New York Yankees leadoff man DJ LeMahieu are the top three finishers in voting for the American League MVP award.

LeMahieu, who hit a big league-best .364, and Bauer are free agents after starring during the pandemic-shortened season.

Indian’ pitcher Shane Bieber joined Minnesota Twins right-hander Kenta Maeda and Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu as finalists for the American League Cy Young Award.

The top finishers in voting for American League Manager of the Year are Tampa Bay RaysKevin Cash, Toronto OriolesCharlie Montoyo and Rick Renteria, who was let go by the Chicago White Sox after the team made the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

Miami’s Don Mattingly, San Diego’s Jayce Tingler and the Cubs’ David Ross are the finalists for NL Manager of the Year. Tingler and Ross just completed their first seasons as big league skippers.

The finalists for AL Rookie of the Year are Houston Astros right-hander Cristian Javier and center fielders Kyle Lewis of the Seattle Mariners and Luis Robert of the White Sox. Philadelphia Phillies infielder Alec Bohm, Padres infielder Jake Cronenworth and Milwaukee Brewers reliever Devin Williams are the top finishers for the National League rookie award.

Giancarlo Stanton Opts to Stay with the New York Yankees

Giancarlo Stanton is still in a New York state of mind…

The 30-year-old part-Puerto Rican professional baseball player will keep the remaining $218 million and seven guaranteed years in his New York Yankees contract rather than opt out after a pair of injury-decimated seasons.

Giancarlo Stanton,

Stanton, a designated hitter, hit .266 with 38 homers and 100 RBIs in his first season with the Yankees in 2018. He batted .288 with three homers and 13 RBIs in 2019, when he was limited to 18 games by a left biceps strain that sidelined him from April 1 to June 18 and a right knee strain that kept him out from June 26 to September 18. He hit .250 with four homers and 11 RBIs in the coronavirus pandemic-shortened 2020 season, limited to 23 games by a strained left hamstring that sidelined him from August 9 to September 15.

Stanton rebounded to become the Yankees’ best offensive player in the playoffs, hitting .308 (8-for -26) with six homers and 13 RBIs in seven games.

A four-time MLB All-Star with the Miami Marlins, Stanton agreed to a $325 million, 13-year contract with the Marlins in November 2014. He hit .281 in 2017 and led the major leagues with 59 homers and 132 RBIs, then was traded to the Yankees in December 2017 for second baseman Starlin Castro, right-hander Jorge Guzman and minor league infielder Jose Devers.

Stanton is due $29 million in each of the next two seasons, $32 million annually from 2023 to ’25, $29 million in 2026 and $25 million in 2027. The deal includes a $25 million club option for 2028 with a $10 million buyout.

As part of terms of the trade, because Stanton did not opt out, the Marlins will send the Yankees $30 million to offset part of what remains in his contract: $5 million each on July 1 and October 1 in 2026, 2027 and 2028.

Deivi Garcia to Become Youngest Pitcher to Start a Playoff Game in New York Yankees’ Postseason History

Deivi Garcia is set to make baseball history…

The 21-year-old Dominican-born professional baseball player will start in Game 2 of the American League Divisional Series between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night, making him the youngest pitcher to start a playoff game in Yankees’ postseason history and the 5th-youngest in AL postseason history, per ESPN Stats Info.

It’s a bold stroke for manager Aaron Boone. Garcia made just six starts during the regular season in his first taste of MLB action. Garcia held his own, going 3-2 with a 4.98 ERA/4.15 FIP and 8.7 K/9 to 1.6 BB/9. His command was particularly impressive, never having limited free passes at such a stringent rate at any point in his minor league career when it’s typical for young players to struggle more with their command upon promotion to the big league.

“We deliberated on that a lot over the last several days,” Boone said ahead of Game 1 of the ALDS at Petco Park. “Masa [Masahiro Tanaka] will now go in Game 3. So just like slot and Deivi in between Cole and Masa was the way we wanted to go.

“I think the way he’s pitched, and the way he’s handled himself and handled every situation so far. I felt like I wanted to go this way a couple days ago but wanted to continue to flesh it out because we could. Ultimately today, this morning, decided this the way I wanted to go. I just felt [we had] a lot of good options there, [different] ways we could have gone. I don’t worry about him not being able to handle it, mentally, emotionally and all those things and I know he’s looking forward to it.”

The rookie concurred.

“Super excited,” Garcia said of his reaction upon hearing the news from Boone. “When they finally told me that I was going to get the ball for Game 2. What can I say? Just so excited about it. At the same time, very thankful for the opportunity and I will try to go out there and do the best I can.”

Garcia’s 5’9″ stature and electric stuff has drawn comparisons to Pedro Martinez early in his career, and while that’s quite a lofty comparison at this stage, he certainly looks more and more like a player with cult potential in New York.

Over the small sample of major league innings we’ve seen so far, Garcia averages a 91.9 mph four-seamer that serves as the bedrock offering in his arsenal, throwing it about 60% of the time, often up. The Dominican righty utilizes an 80.6 mph change-up away against lefties while mixing in a breaking ball about 12.5% of the time. Against right-handed batters, he goes to a slider/curveball combo more frequently, giving equal love to the slider and curve for a total usage rate of about 33%. He was the Yankees No. 1 prospect coming into the season.

Dany Garcia Among the New Owners of the XFL

It’s game on for Dany Garcia

The 51-year-old Cuban American businesswoman and producer, her former husband Dwayne Johnson and RedBird Capital Partners have bought the XFL, a twice-unsuccessful professional football alternative to the NFL fronted by WWE chief Vince McMahon, for $15 million.

Dany Garcia

Garcia and her business partners were selected as the winning bidder for the assets controlled by Alpha Entertainment, the parent company of the XFL.

The transaction is subject to bankruptcy court approval at a hearing this Friday. Assuming that closing conditions are satisfied, the acquisition is expected to close on or shortly after August 21.

In announcing the deal, Garcia and her fellow projected new owners said they have secured “the ability to option live entertainment intellectual property for further expansion across sports, live events and original entertainment programming.”

The XFL, which had two single-season attempts to go up against the NFL, one in 2000 and the second this year, was fronted by McMahon and the WWE, which owned a 23.5% stake in the league. After starting its season in February, the XFL was forced to shut down due to COVID-19 in March. It filed for bankruptcy in April.

“For Dwayne, Gerry and myself, this property represents an incredible opportunity. It is the confluence of great passion, tradition and possibility” Garcia said. “Sports and entertainment are the foundations of the businesses I have built. Melding our expertise combined with our commitment to deliver exciting and inspiring unique content, has us all focused on developing the XFL brand into a multi-media experience that our athletes, partners and fans will proudly embrace and love.”

Johnson has a connection to the sport, having played college football at Miami.

“The acquisition of the XFL with my talented partners, Dany Garcia and Gerry Cardinale, is an investment for me that’s rooted deeply in two things – my passion for the game and my desire to always take care of the fans,” Johnson said. “With pride and gratitude for all that I’ve built with my own two hands, I plan to apply these callouses to the XFL, and look forward to creating something special for the players, fans, and everyone involved for the love of football.”

Jeffrey Pollack, president and COO of the XFL, called it a “Hollywood ending” to the process of seeking a sale.

Garcia and Johnson are co-founders of Seven Bucks Companies, a multi-platform enterprise pioneering original content for television, film, emerging technologies and digital networks.

RedBird was founded by former Goldman Sachs partner Cardinale. He has orchestrated a range of major sports deals over the past 20 years involving his clients and teams like the New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys as well as leagues like the NFL.

The XFL was the latest in a long line of failed attempts to dislodge the NFL from its perch as the No. 1 sports league in America. Football fans haven’t tuned in en masse for leagues like the Alliance of American Football, the United States Football League or the World Football League.

The first XFL season, in 2000, provided a brief summertime splash in the ratings for NBC, which was a part-owner of the league at the time, before quickly fading.

The latest iteration of the XFL differed from the first attempt in that it didn’t try to amp up the violence or present more scantily clad cheerleaders. Kickoffs, a routine feature of games that experts have linked to high rates of concussions, underwent a dramatic change in the XFL, with teams lining up close to each other so as to eliminate running-start collisions. Other innovations included microphones on the sidelines, enabling fans to follow the game in more detail.

Toronto Blue Jays to Celebrate Tony Fernandez with Special Uniform Patch This Season

Tony Fernandez is being honored in a special way by his old team…

The Toronto Blue Jays will celebrate the late Dominican professional baseball player and Major League Baseball legend, who passed away earlier this year, by wearing a patch with his No. 1 on the left sleeve of uniform jerseys this season.

Tony Fernandez

A member of Toronto’s 1993 World Series champions who had nine RBIs in the six-game win over the Philadelphia Phillies, Fernandez had kidney problems and died on February 16 at age 57.

He is the Blue Jays’ career leader in games (1,450), hits (1,583) and triples (72). He spent 12 seasons with Toronto in four stints and had a .288 batting average and 2,276 hits over 17 big league seasons. Fernandez also played for the San Diego Padres, the New York Mets and New York YankeesCleveland IndiansCincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers. He was a five-time MLB All-Star.

“There are few players in the game who can impact a team and a fan base the way Tony did in Toronto,” Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro said in a statement. “Beyond his impressive career numbers, achievements, and accolades, Tony resonated with baseball fans because of how he played the game and conducted himself as a teammate.”

Jennifer Lopez & Alex Rodriguez Add Sports Star Power in Bid to Purchase the New York Mets

Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez aren’t giving up their Mets quest…

The 50-year-old Puerto Rican superstar and the 44-year-old Dominican American former-baseball-player-turned-sports-commentator aren’t giving up on their bid to purchase the New York Mets from the Wilpon family. 

Jennifer Lopez & Alex Rodriguez

After the pair reportedly teamed up with billionaire Mike Repole in an ownership group, they’ve now added a group of investors that includes some other big names. 

Per ESPN, Hall of Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher, 2020 Super Bowl champion Travis Kelce, ex-NFL star DeMarco Murray, former Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Joe Thomas,Washington Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal and Denver Nuggets center Mason Plumlee are all joining the celebrity couple’s bid.

“We couldn’t be more excited to have such high-quality individuals as part of our group,” Lopez and Rodriguez told ESPN on Monday.

The Wilpons have been looking to sell the Mets for months now, but a deal hasn’t been reached despite some interest. 

The Wilpons originally had an agreement in place to sell the team to hedge fund investor and billionaire Steve Cohenwhile remaining in control of the club for another five years, but that deal fell apart.

Recently, it was reported that Cohen delivered the family an offer for $2 billion, and was willing to offer an additional $2 billion to also acquire SportsNet New York (SNY). The Wilpons have reportedly been reluctant to give up SNY. However, it now appears the television network would now be included in a potential sale, indicating the Wilpons are more serious about a deal.

The group headed by Lopez and Rodriguez reportedly submitted an initial bid of $1.7 billion. The former New York Yankees slugger and Bronx-born pop star have reportedly put $300 million of their own money toward the bid. 

The Wilpons will review all of the bids, and work with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred to determine the next steps in the process. Whoever does end up taking home the Queens-based franchise will need to their purchase to be approved by 75 percent of MLB owners.

The Wilpons reportedly hope to close a deal by the fall and gain Major League Baseball approval for the new owners before the end of the year.