March 16: Tatis is undergoing surgery this morning, tweets Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union Tribune.
March 14, 2:16pm: It’s not clear precisely when Tatis suffered his injury, but he admitted today when speaking with reporters (including Jesse Rogers of ESPN) that he’d fallen off his motorcycle multiple times throughout the winter. One accident described as minor had been reported in early December; Tatis called its resultant injuries “minor scrapes,” but Jon Heyman of the MLB Network tweets that some people “close to the situation” are hypothesizing he suffered his wrist fracture at that point. As Bob Nightengale of USA Today points out, team officials were barred from speaking with or examining Tatis until last Thursday on account of the lockout.
11:29am: Tatis has a fracture in the scaphoid bone of his left wrist, tweets Cassavell. It’s possible the injury was sustained earlier in the winter (though that remains unclear), but it flared up decisively while swinging a bat recently.
11:05am: Padres superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. suffered a broken wrist that could require surgery, president of baseball operations A.J. Preller announced to reporters this morning (Twitter link via MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell). Surgery is a possibility for Tatis, who is expected to miss up to three months recovering from the injury.
It’s a brutal blow to the Padres, who’ll now go as much as half the season without one of the game’s brightest young stars. Tatis missed time last season with a recurring subluxation of his shoulder but nevertheless hit .282/.364/.611 with 42 home runs in just 130 games. Tatis avoided surgery for that particular ailment but will now miss substantial time with a new malady.
San Diego has plenty of infield depth, though there’s no replacing a player of Tatis’ caliber. His injury could create a more stable opportunity for former KBO star Ha-Seong Kim, who struggled in a part-time role with the Friars last year after signing a four-year, $28MM contract. Alternate options on the roster include third baseman Manny Machado, second baseman Jake Cronenworth and utilityman Jurickson Profar — all of whom have experience at shortstop in the big leagues. Twenty-one-year-old CJ Abrams is among the top prospects in all of baseball, but he’s not yet on the 40-man roster and has yet to play above Double-A. He’s in camp as a non-roster invitee, though, so he’ll get a chance to force the team’s hand.
Of course, it at least bears mention that there are a few prominent shortstops yet unsigned on the market. Both Carlos Correa and Trevor Story have been in search of new homes this winter, and were either amenable to a one-year deal that’d allow them to reenter the market next winter, the Friars could make for a previously unexpected fit. There’d be an eventual logjam, but Tatis did spend some time in the outfield last year.
That said, a Story or Correa match is an extreme long shot for multiple reasons. Both are seeking long-term arrangements, and the Padres have been looking to shed payroll as they explore trade scenarios involving Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers. Signing either free agent would require not only forfeiting a draft pick but also forking over a sizable salary. Preller has taught us time and again to never expressly rule the Padres out on virtually any pie-in-the-sky scenario, but it’s pretty difficult to imagine either Story or Correa popping up in Padres camp to step in for Tatis.
Tatis is entering the second season of a precedent-shattering 14-year, $340MM contract extension. He’s slated to earn $5MM this season and will see his salaries rise to $7MM in 2023, $11MM in 2024, $20MM in 2025-26, $25MM in 2027-28 and $36MM annually from 2029-36.