The Padres are the early frontrunners for “champions of the offseason” after trading for both Yu Darvish and Blake Snell and signing KBO star Ha-Seong Kim. But signing face of the franchise Fernando Tatis Jr. to a long-term contract extension could be the cherry on top — and count Padres general manager A.J. Preller among those in San Diego motivated to get that done.
“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.”
Things are quieting down for the @Padres now…
Except for the Fernando Tatis Jr. extension talks. pic.twitter.com/ZgKuFMjszU
— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) January 3, 2021
Preller told reporters after the Padres’ National League Division Series loss to the Dodgers that there was “interest on both sides” in getting that extension done, though there was no indication then that negotiations had really begun. Tatis has one more season before he begins salary arbitration and has four years of team control remaining before he can become a free agent following the 2024 season, when he would be only 25.
Considering that Tatis is off to one of the greatest starts by any shortstop in history, it would be a shock if the Padres didn’t eventually find a way to make sure their generational star stays in San Diego. Getting an extension done could further build the Friars’ momentum going into a promising 2021 campaign.
Kluber to throw for teams on Jan. 13
Veteran free-agent starter Corey Kluber will throw for MLB teams on Jan. 13 in Florida — and the Red Sox are already interested — a source told MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi on Monday.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 4, 2021
Kluber missed almost all of the 2019 and ’20 seasons due to injuries, making only eight total starts. Last season, after being traded from the Indians to the Rangers, he made only one start before tearing the right teres muscle in his pitching shoulder, which forced him to miss the rest of the year.
But the 34-year-old right-hander is an interesting free agent because of how good he was before his injuries. Over the five seasons from 2014-18, Kluber went 83-45 with a 2.85 ERA for the Indians, averaged 218 innings and 246 strikeouts per season and won two AL Cy Young Awards.
Dodgers’ 3B options include Turner, LeMahieu, Bryant, Suárez
The Dodgers have a lot of options to consider for their third-base job in 2021. Will they bring back Justin Turner? Will they go out and sign DJ LeMahieu? Or will they trade for a third baseman like Kris Bryant or Eugenio Suárez?
The Los Angeles Times’ Jorge Castillo breaks down L.A.’s options here. The Dodgers would like to re-sign Turner, according to the report, but Turner is seeking a four-year deal, while the Dodgers only want to give the 36-year-old a two-year deal.
If the Dodgers can’t find common ground with Turner, they might have to bring in a new third baseman from outside the organization, and if that’s the case, Castillo writes that LeMahieu “sits atop the list of external options.” LeMahieu’s versatility in the infield would allow him to step in at third base for L.A.
However, whatever contract he signed would likely push the Dodgers over the competitive balance tax for 2021, and the Dodgers might not be able to beat out competing teams to sign LeMahieu like the Yankees and Blue Jays. So Los Angeles could also try to trade for a third baseman like Bryant from the Cubs or Suárez from the Reds.
The Dodgers are looking for right-handed bats, which makes Bryant and Suárez better third-base trade targets than, say, Mike Moustakas or Kyle Seager.
— Information from MLB.com is used in this report.