News broke today that Fernando Tatis Jr., the star of San Diego, the $340 million dollar man, the Finest City’s great hope– you get the point– he’s out for ‘at least’ three months with a fractured wrist.
His comments suggest the injury might’ve been suffered a while ago.
“Nothing crazy, I thought it was something we could work through,” he told reporters today. “Obviously, it wasn’t.”
He has yet to make a decision on surgery. However, it appears likely that’s where the issue is headed. Now, don’t forget, Tatis was in a minor motorcycle accident over the offseason. This was a quiet, swept under the rug situation, that might see the light of day again, given recent events.
Who will play shortstop in his absence?
Let’s break down the suitors:
Manny Machado: This seems like the best-case scenario. Machado is used to playing short. He’s done it 232 times in his career– mostly with the Baltimore Orioles. In fact, he would prefer short over third, where he’s presently playing. In the 232 times he’s played there, he’s hit .292 with an .894 OPS. In his 1,050 games at third, his average was .277 with an .810 OPS. He’s committed 15 total errors at short in his 10-years in the league. At third, he’s committed 74 total errors. Needless to say, he might be a defensive liability anywhere in the infield. So while his bat is more important, his glove might not fit at short for his team at the moment.
Jake Cronenworth: Cronenworth, at first glance, seems like he’ll play the next man up for Tatis. He was a breakout star for San Diego, hitting 21 homers with an .OPS of .800 in 2021. While some think he’ll take a step back this season, I believe the complete opposite. His trajectory shows he will greatly improve in his late-20s. Two years in the league, 206 games in, Cronenworth has committed seven total errors. Not bad. Not great either. Just in the middle. The thing that should concern everyone most about Cronenworth is his arm. Second base is his perfect position. While he can be a solid defender, his arm strength could be exposed.
Ha-Seong Kim: If you want a fielder’s fielder, Kim is your guy. Before his debut in the league last season, he was a three-time Golden Glove winner in the Korea Baseball Organization. He’s fast, twitchy, can make damn near any throw at any angle, and compares defensively very well to what Omar Vizquel once was. You’re looking for that “But” right? Here it is. BUT, he’s an average to below-average hitter at best. Think Jose Iglesias. When you need his bat to show up, it simply doesn’t. In 117 games last year he hit .221 with 69 hits, 40 RBIs and 118 total bases. Maybe he’s worked on his bat this offseason. Maybe we’ll see a little more hitting for average. The odds are stacked against him, though. We’ve seen this story. He’s a 5’9″ speedy infielder with a sick glove. A defense first kind of player. If San Diego wants to take the West, they’ll need to win early and win a lot. Ha-Seong Kim isn’t your guy to lead the way at short.
Free-Agent: This option could very well make sense. There’s still some serviceable options on the market. J.T. Riddle, Jonathan Villar, Freddy Galvis, or even Franklin Barreto. Trevor Story is still on the market as well, but I doubt San Diego wants to spend over $100 million for someone who might fail hitting out of Coors Field. Carlos Correa I’m not even going to entertain. So, looking at who is still left on the market, there’s no one that’s eye-popping. No one to carry a franchise. Sorry, but this option doesn’t appeal either. Next!
CJ Abrams: Ladies and gentleman, let me introduce your best option. CJ Abrams is your top prospect right now, just waiting to be promoted. He’s spent the majority of his time with Double-A affiliate San Antonio Missions. I’m not saying let’s start him day one. Let’s just see how he does in Spring Training. If he performs well, move him to Triple-A for a few weeks to a month. See how he performs there, and if he’s ready to go, bring him up. That’s the ‘playing it safe’ way, which I can see. He struggled in 2021, yes, but he’s looking really good right now after his injury. In reality, if it was my choice, I’d start Abrams day one, Opening day. Let him go through his ups and downs. I wouldn’t say this for many other prospects, but for this guy, he’s a stud. He’s got the wheels, the stick, the competitive drive, long frame, big arm– need I say more? The game is evolving. We’re seeing players promoted at record paces. Let’s quit playing footsie with this prospect and bring him up immediately. Tatis’ early injury set the stage for this.
Some may feel this is an overreaction, but look at these options above, because one of them might very well be the shortstop for the long haul. Tatis, 23, has had a history of injuries over the course of his career in the both the majors and the minors. Twice last season, he sustained a left shoulder subluxation. Once in April against the San Francisco Giants and again in July. The jury isn’t out on him yet, so let’s hold off the assumption of him being injury-prone, but his injuries are something we should keep a close eye on in the future.