The baseball world was shaken on Friday afternoon when it was learned that one of the game’s brightest young stars, Fernando Tatis Jr., had tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug and had been struck down by the Major League Baseball with an 80-game suspension.
Tatis, the 23-year-old superstar shortstop who had already established himself as one of the faces of the sport, was just days away from recovering from the wrist injury that sidelined him all season. His San Diego Padres, on the heels of a blockbuster trade for Juan Soto, eagerly awaited his return as they hunted for a title. Tatis’ season is now over and the Padres’ championship hopes have been greatly diminished.
But there is so much more to it.
Here are some of the most pressing questions about Tatis, the Padres and MLB.
What does this mean for Tatis?
We’ll cover the general aspects later, but first the basics: Tatis’ 80-game suspension begins Friday and will last for the remaining 48 games of the regular season. How long until 2023 will depend on how deep the Padres play in the playoffs, if they get there (they came into play Friday with a one-game lead over sixth and last place in the League playoffs national). Tatis is also not expected to be eligible to represent the Dominican Republic in next year’s World Baseball Classic.
Tatis is one of the most captivating stars in the game, yet in his first four seasons he will have played only 273 of a possible 546 regular season games. He missed the final seven weeks of the 2019 season due to a lower back stress reaction, spent all of 2021 dealing with a wayward left shoulder and will ultimately miss the entirety of 2022 for factors that were apparently well within his control: a wrist injury that likely occurred in an off-season motorcycle accident, and now a positive drug test.
Tatis, who could lose nearly $3 million in salary with the suspension, released a 198-word statement in which he said he “inadvertently took ringworm medication containing Clostebol.”
Tatis later added that he was “completely devastated”, writing: “There is nowhere else in the world I would rather be than on the pitch competing with my teammates. After initially appealing the suspension , I realized that my mistake was the cause of this result, and for this reason, I decided to start serving my suspension immediately. I look forward to joining my teammates on the pitch in 2023.”
What does this mean for the Padres?
It doesn’t get any more deflating than that. Rewind just 10 days ago when fans lined the gates of Petco Park clamoring to enter the stadium for a midweek game against the Colorado Rockies. It was because the team had just traded for Soto, yes, but it was bigger than that; it was a palpable excitement not only because of what the Padres were right now, but what they would be very soon.
The Padres laid bare their farming system as they chased Soto, and others, because they saw it as an opportunity to go, a belief rooted in large part in what the team accomplished without Tatis. . With him back in the lineup, they saw a legitimate championship contender. And with the additions of Soto, Josh Bell, Brandon Drury and Josh Hader, they saw a team that could rival the Yankees, Dodgers, Mets and Astros and any of the sports behemoths.
The Padres will always be good, of course. They are still considered playoff-prone, with Ha-seong Kim continuing to provide stellar defense at shortstop and Trent Grisham continuing to be a mainstay in center field. But it won’t be the same. This is a major missed opportunity, and it’s not a franchise that can absorb many of them.
Under chairman Peter Seidler, the Padres took a major leap of faith by investing heavily in the major league roster in hopes that local fans — in a city that recently lost its NFL team — would rally around it. of them. Tatis embodies this approach in many ways. They rewarded it with a massive $340 million, 14-year extension in February 2021, calling it a “statue deal.” And they basically assembled a star roster around him. Tatis didn’t live up to his end in large part because he didn’t act responsibly, as evidenced by the two reasons he will miss all of 2022.
The Padres’ statement was noticeably dry and by no means supportive, ending with the following line: “We fully support the program and hope Fernando learns from this experience.” Later Padres general manager AJ Preller hints at trust issues speaking to reporters in Washington, D.C.
What does this mean for MLB?
It’s a black mark for the game every time one of its star players gets arrested for alleged cheating (an aspect of which Tatis denies). Tatis’ suspension is up there with those of Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Miguel Tejada, Manny Ramirez and Ryan Braun. He’s such a big star; he means a lot to the sport.
Tatis embodies the type of athlete Major League Baseball wants to market – bilingual, handsome, charismatic, flashy, extremely talented. Now Tatis must live with the stigma of that for the rest of his career, the extent of which is impossible to determine at this time. His image may never fully recover.
What does this drug do?
Clostebol is a testosterone-boosting anabolic steroid that is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency and has been on the MLB Prohibited List since it began testing steroids in 2003. Clostebol was one of the substances for which Dee Gordon tested positive in 2016, on the heels of a batting title. Freddy Galvis also tested positive in 2012.
Tatis, however, is a much bigger star, being the only player in major league history with 80 home runs and 50 stolen bases in the first 300 games of his career. He is now the third player in the expansion era (since 1961) to finish in the top three in MVP voting and then miss the entire following season, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. The others were Moises Alou, who missed the 1999 season with a torn ACL, and Sandy Koufax, who retired after winning a Cy Young in 1966.