Fernando Tatis Jr. Received an 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs.
The 2022 campaign for Fernando Tatis Jr. is over. Major League Baseball said Friday afternoon that the Padres star had tested positive for Clostebol, a prohibited performance-enhancing drug, in an astonishing turn of events. He has been given an immediate 80-game, no-pay suspension. Tatis joins the restricted list after confirming he has already withdrawn an appeal he had first submitted.
"Major League Baseball has notified me that a test sample I provided resulted in a positive finding for Clostebol, a prohibited substance. It turns out that I unintentionally consumed a ringworm medicine that contains Clostebol. I should have used the tools at my disposal to check that the medication I was taking didn't include any illegal drugs. I was unable to do so.
I want to express my regret to the Padres' ownership, president of baseball operations A.J. Preller, my colleagues, Major League Baseball, and baseball fans everywhere. My mistake is completely my fault, and I would never intentionally cheat or disrespect this game that I adore. I am devastated beyond belief.
The Padres also issued a quick comment on the news:
"We were shocked and deeply sorry to discover today that Major League Baseball's Joint Prevention and Treatment Program had resulted in an 80-game ban without pay for Fernando Tatis Jr. We firmly believe in the Program and are confident that Fernando will gain knowledge from this encounter.
Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune and Dennis Lin of the Athletic were among the journalists who requested confirmation from Preller that the company was informed of the suspension this afternoon, about two hours prior to it becoming public. The director of baseball operations for the Padres was open and honest about his dissatisfaction, saying, "Over the course of the last six or seven months, I think (trust) has) been something that we haven't really been able to have." That seems to be an allusion to Tatis' motorcycle accident, which broke his wrist. "I suppose we're hoping that there would be some maturity from the offseason to now," Preller continued. Obviously, given the events of today, it's more of a pattern and requires further investigation. He must be quite disappointed, but saying it is only the first step. You must first demonstrate it via your behavior.
Tatis won't play in a big league game for the whole 2022 season. (Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that he won't be allowed to play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic next spring.) When the talented shortstop reported to the team in Spring Training, it was discovered that he had fractured his left wrist in an offseason motorbike accident. He underwent surgery and missed several months of work as a result. Tatis was just assigned to Double-A on a rehab assignment, so there was finally some relief. He had participated in four minor league contests and will soon be joining the big league team. That won't be the case anymore.
There are still 48 regular season games left for the Padres. That puts him in a position to miss up to 32 games of the 2023 season as well. Tatis' ban would be lighter if he missed any playoff games, though (if the Padres reach the postseason this year).
It's a shattering setback to the San Diego squad, which entered play on Friday night in control of the final Wild Card place in the National League. They are only ahead of the Brewers by one game, which creates the possibility of a close pennant race. The excellent midseason reinforcement on whom the Friars had been banking won't be able to help them if they want to make the postseason.
Not that the Padres are doomed, though. Despite playing the entire season without the two-time Silver Slugger winner, they are still 12 games ahead. 500 with a run difference of +40. Now more than ever, the deadline blockbuster to include Juan Soto and Josh Bell looms huge. Soto, Bell, and Manny Machado continue to lead San Diego's scary middle of the order, and Jake Cronenworth and Jurickson Profar have both hit above average.
Tatis'.292/.369/.596 slash line through his first three major league seasons is impossible to replace, but the Padres are as well-positioned as a team can be to handle his loss. In his second MLB season, Ha-Seong Kim has excelled at shortstop for them. Through 392 plate appearances, the former KBO star is hitting.247/.324/.371, which is precisely league average offense according to the wRC+ metric. Kim is one of the best defensive shortstops in the league according to public measures, making him a more than suitable replacement for the rest of the season.
The bigger impact on the roster may be that San Diego has few options left to replace struggling center fielder Trent Grisham. On his rehab assignment, Tatis was expected to play shortstop and center field, and he may have ended up spending more time in the outfield later on. Kim has successfully played shortstop for the whole season, but Grisham has a.195/.292/.357 slash across 411 plate appearances. He has been the starting center fielder despite Wil Myers receiving the start the last three times the Friars faced a left-handed starting pitcher. For the stretch run, Skipper Bob Melvin anticipates maintaining at least a soft platoon configuration.
Tatis' absence in 2022 must worry the organization in the long run, even though the club will feel the effects this year, especially in the final stretch. He signed an agreement in February 2021 that extends his contract for 12 more seasons after this one. There is perhaps no one more significant to the franchise's long-term future, as evidenced by the fact that his $340MM contract is the fourth-largest in MLB history.
It's a backloaded deal. While considerable, Tatis' money forfeited during the suspension is not nearly as large as it would have been had he tested positive in a few years. He will forfeit the remaining $5MM (about $1.5MM) of this year's income as well as roughly one month's worth of the $7MM salary for the next year. The number of games he forfeits will depend on how far the Friars advance in the playoffs this year, which will determine how much of his salary will be lost. He will most certainly miss 20% of the scheduled time, which will cost him $1.3 million in compensation next year.