Major League Baseball announced on Friday afternoon that Padres will star Fernando Tatis Jr. has been suspended from 80 games without payment after testing positive for Clostebol, a banned performance-enhancing substance. Jeff Passan of ESPN (Twitter link) reported that Tatis had passed a PED test seconds before the competition announcement.
The Padres have released a statement about the astonishing development:
“We were surprised and extremely disappointed to learn that Fernando Tatis Jr. tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance in violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Prevention and Treatment Program and subsequently received an 80-game suspension without payment. We fully support the program and hope Fernando will learn from this experience.”
Tatis will play the entire 2022 season without appearing in a major league game. The star shortstop sustained a fracture to his left wrist in an off-season motorcycle accident, an injury that came to light when he joined the team in Spring Training. He underwent surgery and was out of action for months. There was finally light at the end of the tunnel, when Tatis was sent to Double-A for drug addiction last week. He had played in four minor league-games and was due to rejoin the big league-club in a few weeks. That will no longer be the case.
MLB has indicated that Tatis’s suspension is effective immediately. The Padres have 48 games left on the regular season schedule. That will allow him to miss as many as the first 32 games of the 2023 season, although Tatis’ suspension would be reduced for any playoff games he misses (if the Padres reach the postseason this year). However long his suspension lasts next season, Tatis’ 2022 season is definitely over.
It’s a crushing blow to a San Diego team coming into play Friday night in possession of the National League’s last Wild Card spot. They are just a game away from the Brewers and set the stage for a hard-fought pennant race. If they want to make it into the postseason, the Friars will have to do without the elite midseason reinforcements they’ve been counting on.
That’s not to say the Padres are doomed. They have been without the two-time Silver Slugger winner all season, and yet they are 12 games above .500 by a +40 difference. The deadline blockbuster to add Juan Soto and Josh Bell looms bigger than ever now. San Diego still has a terrifying middle class with Soto, Bell, Manny Machadowhile Jake Cronenworth and Jurickson Profar each have a hit at above average levels.
There is no way to replace a player who has a .292/.369/.596 slash line during his first three big league seasons, but the Padres are in as good a position as a team can reasonably be to to endure the absence of Tatis. They got strong play from Ha-Seong Kim at shortstop in his second MLB season. The former KBO star hits .247/.324/.371 through 392 at bats, exactly league average violation by wRC+’s yardstick. Public stats have marked Kim as one of the best defensive shortstops in the sport, filling him in more than enough for the rest of the season.
More to come.