MLB

MLB rumors: Padres working on Fernando Tatis Jr. extension; Japanese righty has big-league offers

The year 2021 has arrived, and that means we’re even deeper into the ongoing MLB offseason. While most of the big names are still on the board, activity is increasing — thanks mostly to the Padres. So to give you an idea of what the hot stove might have in store before spring training comes around, we’re here to round up the latest MLB rumors. As always, you can access CBS Sports’ top-60 free agent tracker at any time for all the latest updates this offseason.

Now, let’s take a look at what is buzzing around the baseball rumor mill.

Padres GM confirms Tatis extension talks

San Diego Padres general manager A.J. Preller has been busy so far this offseason. After trading for both Yu Darvish and Blake Snell and signing KBO standout Ha-Seong Kim, it appears that Preller is now onto his next piece of business, signing franchise superstar shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. to a long-term contract extension.

“We wanted to focus during the beginning part of the offseason on improving our ballclub and then get to the new year and start to dig in on Tatis’ situation,” Preller told MLB Network Radio on Sunday. “We’ve had very preliminary-type conversations just letting each other know that there’s interest there. Hopefully we’re on common ground to work something out at some point before the season.”

Our own Mike Axisa outlined what else the Padres need to get done after the blockbuster moves, and among them was locking up Tatis. Here’s what Axisa had to say:

The Braves gave Ronald Acuna Jr. an eight-year extension worth $100 million in April 2019. That may seem like a natural reference point for a Tatis extension, except Acuna signed his deal when he was still six years away from free agency. Tatis is only four years away from free agency because the Padres did not manipulate his service time last year (unlike the Braves, who kept Acuna down just long enough in 2018 to push his free agency back one year).

The more appropriate comparison is Alex Bregman. He signed a six-year deal worth $100.6 million in March 2019, when he was four years away from free agency. That contract valued his arbitration years at $13 million apiece and his free agent years at $30.5 million apiece. Tatis is three years younger now than Bregman was when he signed his extension, which gives him more leverage. Tatis is currently scheduled to become a free agent at age 25. Golly.

Six years and $120 million or so may be the sweet spot for both sides. The Padres would gain cost certainty over Tatis’ arbitration years and buy out two free agent years. Tatis would lock in an enormous guaranteed payday and still be able to hit free agency at age 27, which is far younger than most free agents. He could take the $120-ish million now and still be looking at $300-plus million as a free agent in six years. Maybe it’ll be $400-plus million by then.

Tatis, who recently turned 22, can not become a free agent until the 2024-25 offseason, when he would only be 25-years-old. In 2020, he finished fourth in the National League MVP voting after he posted a .277/.366/.571 slash line to along with 17 home runs and 45 RBI.

Marlins add Sandy Leon

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The Miami Marlins announced that they signed former Cleveland and Boston Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon to a minor-league deal with an invitation to 2021 spring training. The club also signed free agent left-handed reliever Ross Detwiler to a one-year contract.

Leon, who will turn 32 in March, played 25 games for Cleveland last season, finishing with a .136/.296/.242 slash line in 81 plate appearances. The veteran catcher logged 24 games behind the plate. Roberto Perez took over as the starting catcher for Cleveland shortly after the abbreviated 2020 season began.

Detwiler, who will turn 35 in March, was designated for assignment by the Chicago White Sox in late September and elected for free agency rather than accepting an outright assignment. The southpaw tossed 19 2/3 relief innings in 2020, posting a 3.20 ERA and 1.22 WHIP during the abbreviated season. According to Craig Mish, Detwiler’s one-year deal with Miami is for $850,000 and includes up to $100,000 in performance bonuses.

The Marlins, coming off a surprise playoff appearance in 2020, weren’t expected to be major spenders this offseason, but have been said to be looking to make improvements at the margins.

Sugano has offers from MLB, NPB clubs

Japanese ace Tomoyuki Sugano has posted for MLB teams, and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the right-hander will likely sign a deal in the next day or two. There’s the possibility that he could return to Japan with the Yomiuri Giants since the club has already offered a four-year deal with three opt-outs, Rosenthal adds. Sugano has also received offers from MLB teams, however, with bigger price tags.

Sugano, 31, is coming off a dynamic season in the Japan Central League, where he had a 1.97 ERA, a 0.888 WHIP, and 131 strikeouts to 25 walks in 137 1/3 innings. He has been the most consistently excellent starting pitcher in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball since Masahiro Tanaka left for MLB in 2014.

He is a two-time Sawamura Award winner (Japan’s Cy Young equivalent) and a former league MVP, and he has a postseason no-hitter to his credit. MLB clubs will have until Thursday to work an agreement with Sugano, who becomes the fourth Asian player to be posted this winter.



 

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