"Why not go to a statue contract? People are saying, 'Oh, too many years.' But I just love what I'm seeing, what we're going to do. I want that statue on one team. I want to stay on one team and build my legacy over here in San Diego."

Fernando Tatis Jr. will have the chance to do exactly that – build a legacy – after signing an eye-popping 14-year, $340million contract with the San Diego Padres.

The Padres – winners of two National League pennants – are pinning their hopes on MLB's new poster boy delivering a first World Series to San Diego.

Not only is Tatis' deal the longest contract in MLB history, but also the largest contract awarded to a player not yet eligible for arbitration after he won a Silver Slugger award, having hit .277 with 17 home runs and 45 RBIs in the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season.

Tatis joins an exclusive club. The powerful 22-year-old shortstop's contract is the third largest in league history, only behind Mike Trout's 12-year, $426.5m extension with the Los Angeles Angels and Mookie Betts' $365m deal over 12 years with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"I'm just the same kid on the field. Nothing's going to change," Tatis said. "I'm playing the game I love. And I feel when you do the things with passion and with love, I feel like it's going to reward you. And I feel like when people ask me how I'm going to play this game, I'm just going to be the same kid every single time."

As Tatis and the Padres embark on an historic partnership, we take a look at the numbers behind the generational superstar using Stats Perform data.

 

Padres have struck (stolen) gold – just ask the White Sox

If you want to talk about steals, look no further than the James Shields trade in June 2016.

The Padres gave up Shields – who had signed the richest free-agent contract in franchise history the two offseasons prior – acquiring a pair of Minor Leaguers from the Chicago White Sox in return.

A certain 17-year-old Tatis was among them. The Dominican – son of former third baseman Fernando Tatis, who spent some 13 years in the majors – was unranked as a prospect in nearly every publication.

"He's got the big-league pedigree," Padres general manager A.J. Preller said at the time, with San Diego also sending a significant amount of cash to the White Sox to pay for part of Shields' contract. "He's a very intelligent kid, he's got good feel for the game. He's a shortstop, and he's a bigger-bodied player that's a pretty good athlete."

A pretty good athlete? Safe to say Preller and the Padres got it right.

In his debut season with the Padres in 2019, Tatis tallied 61 runs, 22 homers and 53 RBIs after hitting .317 in 84 games.

Tatis became the youngest Padres player to debut on Opening Day (20 years and 85 days), while he managed the most homers (22) by any MLB shortstop before turning 21.

He really took baseball by storm in 2020. Tatis became the fastest player in Padres history (24 team games) to reach the double-digit home run mark after hitting his 10th and 11th homers of the season in August.

In the postseason, Tatis homered twice against the St Louis Cardinals in October, becoming the youngest Padre to ever homer in a playoff game (21 years and 273 days) and the third-youngest player in MLB history to homer twice in a postseason match, behind Carlos Correa (21 and 20 days old) and Andruw Jones (19 years, 180 days old)

Tatis also finished fourth in the National League (NL) MVP race last season as the Padres returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

"I love this city," Tatis said. "I love the fans. I love the culture. I love the vibe. And I'm all about winning, and I'm all about winning in San Diego."

He is the first player in MLB history to have at least 35 home runs and 25 stolen bases within the first 150 games of his career.

Tatis packs a punch with the bat – he led the majors in average exit velocity (95.9 mph), hard hit percentage (62.2), and balls hit 95-plus MPH (102).

He also enjoyed a remarkable rise defensively following an erratic rookie season at shortstop.

Tatis went from minus-13 outs above average (OAA) to plus-seven – his plus-20 improvement the largest of any player across that period.

When it comes to on-base plus slugging, Tatis stacks up well. Since 1920, Tatis (150.8) is only behind Juan Soto (153.9 – 2018-20), Albert Pujols (159.3 – 2001), Jimmie Foxx (160.0 – 1925-29), Ted Williams (161.5 – 1939-40) and Trout (165.0 – 2011-13) for highest OPS-plus up until the age of 21.

Using the same timeframe, but for wins above replacement (WAR) among shortstops, Tatis (5.6) ranks ninth. Alex Rodriguez is top (13.6 – 1994-97).

 

Future Hall of Famer?

Tatis has only played 143 games – less than the equivalent of one season in MLB – but he is putting up serious numbers.

Derek Jeter and Cal Ripken Jr. are two standout names to have made the shortstop position their own. Both are Hall of Famers.

Tatis has said he aspires to become "the Dominican Derek Jeter".

Jeter spent his entire 19-year career with the New York Yankees, winning five World Series titles, as many Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards, plus 14 All-Star honours.

"I was already thinking about that since I got to the big leagues," Tatis said of one-team player Jeter. "In my dreams, the players I admire the most, they stay on one team, they build a culture, and they become winners with that team. I'm over here trying to do the same."

Tatis is on track to emulate, and potentially even exceed Jeter.

Comparing the pair through 143 games, Tatis tops Jeter when it comes to homers (39 to eight), runs (111 to 80), RBIs (98 to 63), hits (168 to 154), triples (eight to five), stolen bases (27 to 10), walks (57 to 46), slugging percentage (.582 to .414) and on-base percentage (.956 to .774).

It is a similar story with World Series winner, 19-time All-Star and two-time American League (AL) MVP Ripken.

Through the same amount of games, Tatis sits ahead of Ripken in all the above categories: homers (19) runs (62), RBIs (65), hits (124), triples (four) stolen bases (two), walks (32), slugging percentage (.439) and on-base percentage (.738).

At the end of this mammoth deal, Tatis will be 36. By that time, he would have spent 16 years in San Diego – a tenure matching Trevor Hoffman for second place in franchise history, only adrift of Tony Gwynn's 20 years.

Like Jeter and Ripkin, Gwynn did not enjoy a Tatis-like start to his career after 143 appearances: he stood at two homers, 70 runs, 56 RBIs, 152 hits, four triples, 15 stolen bases, 39 walks, a slugging percentage of .378 and .727 in terms of on-base percentage.

Everything points to a place among the greats at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum for Tatis.

"He's got a chance to set his mark by winning World Series," said Padres manager Jayce Tingler. "It starts with one, and then you build on that."

Fernando Tatis Jr. is reaching for the stars in San Diego, saying he wants to one day see himself immortalised in bronze at Petco Park.

The 22-year-old star shortstop has penned a life-changing 14-year, $340million contract with the Padres and is already declaring himself a one-franchise man.

Tatis has only pulled on a Padres jersey 143 times but has already proven his value, last year leading them to a first MLB playoff appearance since 2006 and a long-awaited first postseason win since 1998.

After finishing third in the 2019 National League (NL) rookie of the year balloting and fourth in the NL MVP race last year, the Padres declared their commitment to Tatis and Dominican ace did not hesitate to reciprocate.

"Why not go to a statue contract?" Tatis said after inking the third biggest deal in competition history.

"People are saying, 'Oh, too many years.' But I just love what I'm seeing, what we're going to do.

"I want that statue on one team. I want to stay on one team and build my legacy over here in San Diego."

For Tatis to achieve his dream of being forged into a legend, there is no doubt the Padres need to do a lot more winning and significantly more trophy lifting.

The team have only ever twice been to a World Series, falling to the Detroit Tigers in 1984 and the New York Yankees in 1998, but the 2020 Silver Slugger Award winner envisions a much different future.

"I was already thinking about that since I got to the big leagues," Tatis said.

"In my dreams, the players I admire the most, they stay on one team, they build a culture, and they become winners with that team.

"I'm over here trying to do the same."

The Padres have made moves to surround Tatis with talent this offseason, bolstering their pitching ranks by trading for the likes of Yu Darvish, Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove.

The challenge for president of baseball operations A.J. Preller, and manager Jayce Tingler, is fitting the rest of the puzzle together.

It seems clear they already have their main piece in place until at least 2034.

"I love this city," Tatis added. "I love the fans. I love the culture. I love the vibe.

"And I'm all about winning, and I'm all about winning in San Diego."

Los Angeles Dodgers star Clayton Kershaw said he has "no intentions" of retiring at the end of the 2021 MLB season.

Kershaw is entering the final season of his three-year, $93million deal as the Dodgers look to defend their World Series crown.

The 32-year-old Dodgers ace helped guide the star-studded franchise to their first World Series triumph since 1988 last season.

During the coronavirus-shortened 2020 campaign, Kershaw had a 2.16 ERA with 62 strikeouts and eight home runs allowed.

In the playoffs, Kershaw's ERA was 2.93 with 37 strikeouts and four wins in five appearances.

As Kershaw prepares for the new season, the future Hall of Famer insisted he has no plans to call it quits at the end of the campaign.

"I'm on a year-to-year basis," Kershaw told reporters on Sunday. "I wanna re-evaluate at the end of every year and see how we're doing -- as a family, myself personally, where we are as a team -- and then just make a decision from there.

"I have no intentions of hanging them up. I'm only 32. I feel like I have more years left in the tank.

"If you ask me right now, I really still love playing, I feel healthy right now, I feel like the ball's coming out good.

"I'm excited for this year… I'm focused on this year and trying to win a World Series, and then after this year, we'll figure things out."

Kershaw was selected by the Dodgers with the seventh pick in the 2006 MLB Draft, while he made his debut two years later.

During his time in Los Angeles, the star pitcher has earned All-Star selection on eight occasions, to go with National League (NL) MVP honours in 2014.

Kershaw is also a three-time NL Cy Young Award winner and Gold Glove recipient.

"I love being here. I love the Dodgers, I love everything about this organisation," Kershaw added. "I just feel really fortunate that I've gotten to have as many opportunities as I've had to win a World Series, and now that we finally won one, you just don't take that for granted. I really have enjoyed my time here and continue to do so."

Only 13 new positive cases of COVID-19 were detected by MLB in its initial round of COVID-19 testing ahead of full-squad spring training, the league announced on Friday. 

The new cases represent 0.3 per cent of the 4,336 intake tests as players and staff reported to team facilities in preparation for spring training games.

Nine of the 13 positive tests were produced by players, while four came from staff members. The 13 positives were spread among 11 teams.

MLB also announced that once players have cleared intake testing they will continue to be tested regularly, and 2,298 additional monitoring tests have been processed without any new positives. 

Pitchers and catchers for all teams had already reported to team facilities in Arizona or Florida. Most clubs plan to start full-squad workouts on Monday, with the first spring training games scheduled for Sunday, February 28.

The 2021 MLB regular season will begin April 1 under a number of coronavirus safety and testing guidelines.

Former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow has retired from baseball after five years in the minor leagues with the New York Mets.

Tebow switched to baseball in 2016, having played for the Denver Broncos and New York Jets following his first-round selection in the 2010 NFL Draft.

The 33-year-old hit a home run in his first at-bat in a game against the St Louis Cardinals in September 2016.

In three professional seasons, Tebow batted .223/.299/.338 with 107 runs, 48 doubles, three triples, 18 homers, 107 RBI and five stolen bases in 287 games.

"I want to thank the Mets, Mr. Alderson, the fans and all my team-mates for the chance to be a part of such a great organisation," said Tebow.

"I loved every minute of the journey, but at this time I feel called in other directions. I never want to be partially in on anything. I always want to be 100 per cent in on whatever I choose.

"Thank you again for everyone's support of this awesome journey in baseball, I'll always cherish my time as a Met."

In 2019 – Tebow's final professional season – he appeared in 77 games for the Syracuse Mets (AAA) before a laceration on his left hand cut short his season.

That season, Tebow tallied 25 runs, four homers and 19 RBIs while hitting .163.

"It has been a pleasure to have Tim in our organisation as he's been a consummate professional during his four years with the Mets," said team president Sandy Alderson.

"By reaching the Triple-A level in 2019, he far exceeded expectations when he first entered the system in 2016 and he should be very proud of his accomplishments."

San Diego Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr. has reportedly agreed a mammoth 14-year contract extension worth more than $300million.

Tatis is set to earn a guaranteed total of $340m with the Padres, according to The Athletic and ESPN.

The deal will be the third-largest contract in MLB history, only behind Mike Trout's 12-year, $426.5m extension with the Los Angeles Angels and Mookie Betts' $365m deal over 12 years with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Tatis – the 22-year-old shortstop – won a Silver Slugger award after hitting .277 with 17 home runs and 45 RBIs in the coronavirus-shortened 2020 MLB season.

He also finished fourth in the National League (NL) MVP race last season as the Padres returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

The Padres, who earned their first winning record since 2010, topped the St Louis Cardinals in the Wild Card Series before falling to eventual World Series champions the Dodgers in the NL Division Series (NLDS).

In his debut season with the Padres in 2019, Tatis tallied 61 runs, 22 homers and 53 RBIs after hitting .317 in 84 games.

Since entering the MLB, Tatis has hit 111 runs, 39 homers, 98 RBIs while hitting .301.

Los Angeles Dodgers star Justin Turner will remain with the World Series champions after signing a new deal.

Turner became a free agent after his four-year, $64million contract expired following the Dodgers' MLB World Series triumph in October.

But veteran third baseman Turner announced his decision via social media on Saturday, though the Dodgers are yet to announce the deal.

The 36-year-old's contract is reportedly worth more than $30m over two years in Los Angeles, where Turner has called home since 2014.

Turner – the 2017 National League Championship Series (NLCS) MVP – helped lead the star-studded Dodgers to their first World Series since 1988.

During the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season, Turner had 46 hits, 26 runs, four homers and 23 RBIs with a .307 average.

In last season's World Series, Turner tallied eight hits, five runs and two homers with a .320 average.

Since his MLB debut with the Baltimore Orioles in 2009, 2017 All-Star Turner has recorded 1,029 hits, 504 runs, 124 homers and 495 RBIs in 3,521 at-bats.

Los Angeles Dodgers recruit Trevor Bauer is eyeing MLB glory after joining the World Series champions.

The Dodgers announced the arrival of National League (NL) Cy Young award winner Bauer on a three-year deal on Thursday.

Bauer - the first Cy Young winner to enter free agency since Greg Maddux in 1992 - is reportedly due to earn $40million in 2021 and $45m in 2022. The 2021 salary would make him the highest-paid player in MLB history, a record he would break again the following year.

As Bauer prepares to form an intimidating Dodgers bullpen, including past Cy Young winners Clayton Kershaw and David Price, plus star pitcher Walker Buehler, the former Cincinnati Reds talked up his desire to win.

"I want to be a member of a winning team. I want to be a member of an organisation that values me and that I value them," Bauer - part of the Cleveland Indians team who lost the 2016 World Series - told reporters on Thursday.

"I've said it a lot this entire process – I'm looking for a partnership. I want a chance to win.

"And I don't want to be a player that signs a long-term deal and towards the end is resented, either by the fan base, by the organisation, or on my end for having my performance slip below what my contract dictates. So I wanted something with the flexibility. I wanted something that worked for me and for the organisation.

"And as far as security goes, I'm well aware of the fact that I'm very well compensated and I'm plenty secure in my life, my family's life, my kid's life down in the future. 

"It wasn't about the money for me. It's about being a part of something that's bigger than myself, being a part of an organisation that can win. I want to win a World Series. I've come in second, both in college and in the big leagues. I'm tired of it. So, I want to come in first."

Bauer led the NL in ERA (1.73), WHIP (0.795), opponents' batting average (.159), opponents' BABIP (.215), adjusted ERA-plus (276), hits per nine innings (5.1), shutouts (two) and complete games (two) in the coronavirus-shortened 2020 campaign.

He also ranked second in strikeouts (100) and strikeouts per nine innings (12.3).

In nine seasons since he broke into the majors with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2012, Bauer is 75-64 with 1,279 strikeouts and a 3.90 ERA. His only All-Star selection came in 2018.

Bauer is the eighth reigning Cy Young award winner to change teams that subsequent offseason after taking his talents to LA, and the fourth to do so in free agency, following Catfish Hunter (1975), Mark Davis (1990), Maddux (1993), David Cone (1995), Pedro Martinez (1998), Roger Clemens (1999) and R.A. Dickey (2013).

The Dodgers are the first World Series champions to add a reigning Cy Young award winner that offseason, after the 1999 Yankees, who prised Clemens to New York and went on to win the ultimate prize that year. 

The Los Angeles Dodgers confirmed the signing of free agent Trevor Bauer on a three-year deal on Thursday.

Bauer, who was the National League Cy Young award winner with the Cincinnati Reds in 2020, confirmed last week he was joining the Dodgers instead of the New York Mets.

The 30-year-old pitcher will reportedly earn a record-breaking $40million in his first season with the World Series champions in 2021.

Bauer is set to then break that record again in 2022 as he earns $45m, although there are opt-out clauses after both years. It is said he will then take in $17m in the final year of his contract.

The ex-UCLA ace, who was presented at Dodger Stadium, is the first Cy Young winner to enter free agency since Greg Maddux in 1992.

Bauer led the NL in ERA (1.73), WHIP (0.795), opponents' batting average (.159), opponents' BABIP (.215), adjusted ERA-plus (276), hits per nine innings (5.1), shutouts (two) and complete games (two) in the coronavirus-shortened 2020 campaign.

The 2018 All-Star also ranked second in strikeouts (100) and strikeouts per nine innings (12.3).

Two-way player Shohei Ohtani has agreed to a two-year, $8.5million contract with the Los Angeles Angels.

Ohtani, 26, and the Angels avoided arbitration after agreeing to terms on Monday.

The 2018 American League (AL) Rookie of the Year is set to enter his fourth MLB season with the Angels in 2021.

"OFFICIAL: The Angels have agreed to a two-year, $8.5million contract with Shohei Ohtani," the team wrote on Twitter.

"With the agreement, an arbitration hearing is avoided."

Ohtani is hitting .269 in his MLB career, with 47 home runs and 147 RBIs.

He is 4-3 as a pitcher in 12 starts, including an ERA of 4.39.

Ohtani pitched in just two games in 2020 after suffering a flexor strain in his right elbow, on which he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018.

Yadier Molina has agreed to terms on a new deal to extend his St Louis Cardinals career into an 18th MLB season.

The 38-year-old catcher's new contract was announced by the Cardinals on Monday.

Molina made his MLB debut with the Cardinals in 2004 and has gone on to win two World Series with the team, while being named an All-Star nine times.

"We are excited to announce that we have agreed to terms with Yadier Molina on a new contract!" the Cardinals wrote on Twitter.

"We will have more details tomorrow on Yadi continuing his Cardinals legacy."

Reports said Molina, who was a free agent, had agreed to a one-year extension with the Cardinals.

Molina's 2,025 games for the Cardinals ranks as the third most for the team, behind Stan Musial (3,026) and Lou Brock (2,289).

He is sixth for hits (2,001), seventh for RBIs (932), 10th for home runs (160) and 22nd for runs scored (713).

The Cardinals made the MLB playoffs in 2020 before falling to the San Diego Padres in the National League (NL) Wild Card Series.

"This season is about making sure history remembers us as we wish to be remembered. This season is about adding to our legacy. And I can't wait, Dodger fans."

While the Los Angeles Dodgers are yet to announce the deal, Trevor Bauer revealed his free-agency decision via his YouTube channel on Friday.

Hot off being crowned the National League (NL) Cy Young award winner with the Cincinnati Reds in 2020, Bauer is getting paid after the opting to join World Series champions the Dodgers instead of the New York Mets in a record-breaking deal.

Bauer - the first Cy Young winner to enter free agency since Greg Maddux in 1992 - is reportedly due to earn $40million in 2021 and $45m in 2022. The 2021 salary would make him the highest-paid player in MLB history, a record he would break again the following year.

The right-handed ace will help form an intimidating Dodgers bullpen, which also includes past Cy Young winners Clayton Kershaw and David Price, plus star pitcher Walker Buehler.

As Bauer looks to experience success in Los Angeles, where Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager spearheaded the Dodgers to World Series glory for the first time since 1988, we take a look at the numbers behind the 30-year-old using Stats Perform Data.

Bauer joins Cy Young club but is success on the horizon?

Bauer led the NL in ERA (1.73), WHIP (0.795), opponents' batting average (.159), opponents' BABIP (.215), adjusted ERA-plus (276), hits per nine innings (5.1), shutouts (two) and complete games (two) in the coronavirus-shortened 2020 campaign.

He also ranked second in strikeouts (100) and strikeouts per nine innings (12.3).

In nine seasons since he broke into the majors with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2012, Bauer is 75-64 with 1,279 strikeouts and a 3.90 ERA. His only All-Star selection came in 2018.

Bauer is the eighth reigning Cy Young award winner to change teams that subsequent offseason after taking his talents to LA, and the fourth to do so in free agency, following Catfish Hunter (1975), Mark Davis (1990), Maddux (1993), David Cone (1995), Pedro Martinez (1998), Roger Clemens (1999) and R.A. Dickey (2013).

Did those players go on to enjoy further success?

Hunter made two All-Star teams with the New York Yankees in 1975 and 1976, Maddux won the NL Cy Young in that 1993 season with the Atlanta Braves as well as in 1994 and 1995 while he also earned All-Star selection between 1994-98 and in 2000, to go with Gold Glove honours in his first 10 years in Atlanta, where World Series victory followed.

Cone was an All-Star with the Yankees in 1997 and 1999, Martinez earned Cy Young Awards with the Boston Red Sox in 1999 and 2000, made All-Star teams in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2002 (and in 2005 and 2006 with the Mets).

Clemens was a Cy Young winner with the Yankees in 2001 and the Houston Astros in 2004. He also made All-Star teams in 2001 and 2003-05 (the latter with the Astros), while Dickey's first year in Toronto saw him secure Gold Glove status.

Ace trio to lead back-to-back bid?

The star-studded Dodgers now boast three Cy Young winners in superstar Kershaw, veteran Price and Bauer.

The last team with three? The 2014 Detroit Tigers, who had a certain Price, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer in their rotation.

That 2014 Tigers side went 90-72 and won the American League (AL) Central, but were swept by the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Division Series (ALDS) 3-0. 

The Cy Young trio started those three playoff games, combining to go 0-2 with a 4.43 ERA. Detroit did not acquire Price that year until the trade deadline; from August 1 to the end of the regular season, the Tigers were 32-25 with a 3.94 team ERA (3.97 from starters).

The Dodgers are the first World Series champions to add a reigning Cy Young award winner that offseason, after the 1999 Yankees, who prised Clemens to New York and went on to win the ultimate prize that year. 

But how does Bauer compare to three-time Cy winner Kershaw (32) and 2012 recipient Price (35)?

Bauer's career numbers do not really measure up to the other two, especially Kershaw, with the exception of his strikeout rate - the younger Bauer comes in at 9.7, level with Kershaw and ahead of Price (8.8).

But just looking at the last three seasons, Bauer has more than held his own.

Since 2018, Bauer has a .211 BA allowed percentage - fewer than Kershaw (.220) and Price (.241).

When it comes to strikeouts per nine innings, Bauer comes in at 11.2, ahead of Price (9.7) and Kershaw (9.2), while the Dodgers recruit (1.0) has fared much better than Price (1.3) and Kershaw (1.2) when it comes to home runs per nine innings.

Bauer also has postseason and World Series experience, having made 10 playoff appearances with the Cleveland Indians and one with the Reds. 

In the NL Wild Card Series against the Braves last season, Bauer allowed just two hits and struck out 12 over 7.3 innings.

The Los Angeles Angels have acquired World Series champion and All-Star Dexter Fowler from the St Louis Cardinals, it was announced on Thursday.

MLB veteran Fowler is swapping the Cardinals for the Angels in exchange for a player to be named or cash considerations.

The Cardinals – who secured star third baseman Nolan Arenado in a blockbuster trade with the Colorado Rockies on Monday – are also sending the Angels $12.75million as part of the deal.

Fowler will reunite with Angels manager Joe Maddon after the pair teamed up during the Chicago Cubs' triumphant World Series run in 2016.

The 34-year-old Fowler – in the final year of a five-year-, $82.5m deal – left the Cubs for the Cardinals ahead of the 2017 season.

Fowler batted .233/.317/.389 with four home runs and 15 RBIs in 31 games during the coronavirus-shortened 2020 campaign.

In his last full season, Fowler hit .238/.346/.409 with 19 homers, 24 doubles and 67 RBIs in 150 games in 2019.

Since debuting with the Rockies in 2008, Fowler is a career .259/.358/.418 hitter with 127 home runs, 253 doubles, 82 triples and 516 RBIs in 1,453 games.

The Angels have not reached the playoffs since being swept by the Kansas City Royals in the 2014 American League Division Series (ALDS).

The St Louis Cardinals made a splash after acquiring Nolan Arenado on Monday.

It cost five players, but the Cardinals fleeced the Colorado Rockies to bring in a five-time All-Star via a blockbuster trade.

The Cardinals will reportedly receive $50million in cash considerations, new deferrals in Arenado's contract that has six years and $199m remaining, and the waiving of his no-trade clause.

Arenado only signed an eight-year, $260m contract with the Rockies prior to the 2019 MLB season but Colorado opted to make a deal with the Cardinals.

The 29-year-old's arrival is a significant addition and quickly establishes the Cardinals as the team to beat in the National League (NL) Central ahead of the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates.

St Louis – eyeing their first World Series championship since 2011 – now boast a formidable corner-infield combination in Arenado and six-time All-Star Paul Goldschmidt.

We take a look at the numbers behind Arenado using Stats Perform data as the World Series-chasing Cardinals eye success in 2021.

 

Arenado's a genuine star

The third baseman's record speaks for itself.

Eight Gold Gloves, four Silver Slugger awards and four Platinum Gloves, to go with three NL home run and NL RBI leader honours.

Arenado is one of two players in MLB history to win a Gold Glove in each of his first eight seasons in the majors, along with former Seattle Mariners favourite Ichiro Suzuki.

While he was hampered by a shoulder injury during the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season – tallying 46 hits, 23 runs, eight homers and 26 RBIs in 182 at-bats for the Rockies, Arenado was coming off a career-best .315 with 41 home runs and 118 RBIs in 2019.

Arenado had five successive seasons with at least 35 home runs and 110 RBIs from 2015-19 (before the shortened 2020 season) – tied for the longest streak in NL history, alongside ex-Cubs star Sammy Sosa (1997-2001).

The Cardinals, on the other hand, have never had a third baseman hit 35-plus home runs in a season in their history.

St Louis are one of five current franchises that have never had a third baseman hit 35-plus homers in a season (34 in 1992 and 2004), and they are the oldest team (1882) in that group, ahead of the Boston Red Sox (1901), Washington Nationals (1969), Mariners (1977) and Miami Marlins (1993).

After making his debut with the Rockies in 2013, Arenado has amassed 1,206 hits, 649 runs, 235 homers and 760 RBIs at an average of .293 in his career.

Since his first MLB appearance almost eight years ago, only Nelson Cruz (287), Mike Trout (267) and Edwin Encarnacion (265) have hit more homers than Arenado.

Arenado, though, tops the list for most RBIs since 2013 – ahead of new team-mate Goldschmidt (720), who sits fourth.

In the postseason, Arenado has two runs, one homer and three RBIs while averaging .190 in 21 at-bats.

The Cardinals – beaten in the Wild Card Round last season – lost to the Nationals in the 2019 National League Championship Series (NLCS), while they went down to the Red Sox in the 2013 World Series.

The 2021 Major League Baseball season will start as scheduled after players rejected a proposal to delay and shorten the campaign due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It was proposed that the start of the season be pushed back from April 1 to April 29 and the number of games each team must play be cut from 162 to 154.

However, the MLB Players Association (MLBPA) rejected the offer, meaning spring training and opening day will go ahead as initially planned if an agreement on health and safety protocols can be reached.

"On the advice of medical experts, we proposed a one-month delay to the start of spring training and the regular season to better protect the health and safety of players and support staff," read an MLB statement.

"A delay of the season would allow for the level of COVID-19 infection rates to decrease and additional time for the distribution of vaccinations, as well as minimising potential disruptions to the 2021 season that currently face all sports.

"The offer included starting the regular season on April 29th and playing a 154-game schedule that would pay players in full as if playing 162 games. We also proposed two changes from the 2020 season that were overwhelmingly popular with our fans – for this season only, featuring a modified expanded postseason (seven teams per league) and the universal designated hitter rule.

"This was a good deal that reflected the best interests of everyone involved in the sport by merely moving the calendar of the season back one month for health and safety reasons without impacting any rights either the players or the clubs currently have under the Basic Agreement or Uniform Player's Contract for pay and service time.

"In light of the MLBPA's rejection of our proposal, and their refusal to counter our revised offer this afternoon, we are moving forward and instructing our clubs to report for an on-time start to spring training and the championship season, subject to reaching an agreement on health and safety protocols.

"Our 2020 season taught us that when the nation faces crisis, the national game is as important as ever, and there is nothing better than playing ball. We were able to complete a 2020 season through Herculean efforts and sacrifices made by our players, club staff and MLB staff to protect one another. We will do so again, together, as we work towards playing another safe and entertaining season in 2021."

A release from the MLBPA said: "Late last week, the MLBPA for the first time this offseason received a proposal from MLB to delay spring training and opening day by approximately one month.

"Under the proposal, the end of the season would be delayed one week, the regular season would be shortened to 154 games and all 30 teams would be required to play several doubleheaders. Players would also be required to accept previously rejected proposals that link expanded playoffs with expansion of the designated hitter.

"Although player salaries would not be initially prorated to a 154-game regular season, MLB's proposal offers no salary or service time protections in the event of further delays, interruptions, or cancellation of the season.

"The MLBPA executive board and player leadership reviewed and discussed the owners' proposal throughout the weekend and today [Monday]. The clear-cut result of these deliberations is that players will not accept MLB's proposal, will instead continue preparations for an on-time start to the 2021 season, and will accept MLB's commitment to again direct its clubs to prepare for an on-time start. 

"We do not make this decision lightly. Players know first-hand the efforts that were required to complete the abbreviated 2020 season, and we appreciate that significant challenges lie ahead. We look forward to promptly finalising enhanced health and safety protocols that will help players and clubs meet these challenges."

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