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The Top 25 Baseball Stories of 2016 — Full Countdown

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Over the past few days we’ve counted down the Top 25 Baseball Stories of 2016. In case you missed a few entries, here they all are:

1. The Chicago Cubs break the curse and win it all
2. Jose Fernandez killed in a boating accident
3. Vin Scully calls his final game
4. David Ortiz’s historic farewell season
5. Alex Rodriguez’s career comes to an end. Probably.
6. Ken Griffey Jr. gets a record 99.3% of the Hall of Fame vote
7. Baseball gets a new Collective Bargaining Agreement
8. The Year of the Reliever 
9. Bryce Harper ties to Make Baseball Fun Again
10. Aroldis Chapman gets baseball’s first domestic violence suspension 
11. The Drake LaRoche Sage tears the White Sox apart
12. Tim Tebow plays baseball
13. Ichiro becomes the All-Time Hit King
14. Bartolo Colon hits a homer
15. The Jose Bautista-Rougned Odor fight
16. Bud Selig gets elected to the Hall of Fame
17. Yoenis Cespedes shows off his wheels
18. MLB adopts “The Chase Utley Rule” 
19. Jenrry Mejia permanently banned for third positive PED test
20. The lifespan of a ballpark gets shorter
21. Chris Sale freaks out, shreds White Sox throwback jerseys
22. Trevor Story and Gary Sanchez make big rookie splashes
23. A.J. Preller suspended for hiding medical information
24. Ryan Howard and Ryan Zimmerman sue Al-Jazeera
25. Curt Schilling fired from ESPN

I hope you enjoyed these. Thanks so much for making HardballTalk and NBC Sports part of your daily routine over the past year. Here’s hoping 2017 is good to you and yours.

Padres will try to lock up Fernando Tatís Jr. to a long term deal

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The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will try to get Fernando Tatís Jr. locked up in a long-term deal before the start of the 2020 season.

It’d be a wise move from the team’s perspective, of course. Tatís showed in 2019 that he’s the future of the franchise, hitting .317/.379/.590 with 22 homers and 16 stolen bases through 84 games while playing spectacular defense at short. He was a serious contender for the Rookie of the Year Award before going down to injury and still finished third despite playing just a tad over half a season.

That talent and promise means that, in all likelihood, Tatís stands to make massive money in arbitration and free agency once he gets there. If he gets there, that is. Because as we’ve seen so often in recent years, teams have been aggressive in their efforts to lock up young stars like Tatís, buying out their arbitration and at least a couple of their free agency years. These deals tend to be team-friendly, with multiple team options aimed at getting maximal value out of such players before they hit the open market. Of course, the players get much more up front money than they would in the three seasons in which teams can and do set their salaries unilaterally, usually at less than $1 million per year. It’s a standard now vs. later tradeoff, even if the value of the “now” is far less than the value of “later” and even if it pays these guys far less than they’re worth overall.

But that’s the system. And it’s one which will force Tatís to make a tough choice: either take a deal at a time when the team has most of the leverage or else turn down millions in hand now in order take a shot at many more millions later. In his case, he’ll have a rookie season with multiple injuries to think about too. Does that portend future injury issues? Could he, like some players who have been in his shoes before, end up damaged goods by the time he expected to get paid?

We’ll see how both he and the Padres calculate all of that between now and February, it seems.