Padres paying Fernando Tatis Jr. SS money to play RF isn't getting enough attention
After just 143 career games, Fernando Tatis was given a 14-year, $340 million contract extension. He didn't even win Rookie of the Year in 2019. Didn't even finish top-three in the NL MVP voting during the shortened 2020 season. After less than a full 162-game slate, he was making Francisco Lindor money thanks to the San Diego Padres' aggressiveness.
Ever since, it's been primetime television for Los Angeles Dodgers fans. Despite Tatis leading the NL with 42 home runs in 2021, the Padres collapsed in hilarious fashion during the second half of the season and finished 79-83. Then, in the offseason, Tatis injured himself in a motorcycle accident. He needed wrist surgery and was ruled out for at least the first half of the 2022 season.
And THEN he was suspended for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, which he swears was the result of taking medication to treat ringworm. Surrreee. He'll still be out for the first three weeks of 2023, too.
But wait, we're still not done! This offseason, the Padres signed shortstop Xander Bogaerts to an 11-year, $280 million contract, which displaced Tatis from his natural position. Bogaerts has a more decorated career (by far) than most players on the Padres' roster, so he wasn't moving off his preferred defensive spot.
The conversation has been quiet on that front, though, until Tuesday, when it was officially determined Juan Soto would shift back over to left field and Tatis would play right field in 2023. Tatis is making Aaron Judge money to play a position he has 20 games of experience at.
Dodgers spending looks genius when compared to Padres-Fernando Tatis Jr situation
And get this: Tatis' preferred position is center field and the Padres apparently won't move a below-average player in Trent Grisham to accommodate the man who was once upon a time the face of the franchise. (Tatis' position for 2023 isn't set in stone yet, but this is looking like the most probable scenario).
Another funny wrinkle to this is that Soto spent the last two years exclusively playing right field. He wasn't very good at it, but per his defensive numbers, he was better in right than he was in left! And the playing time is equal (301 games vs 300). From 2018-2020, he logged a -2.5 dWAR compared to -0.8 from 2021-2022. Additionally, over his career, he's been good for -10 Defensive Runs Saved in left vs 1 DRS in right. The one stat in his favor was his -1 Outs Above Average in left vs -7 in right (yuck).
You tell us, though. Does it seem "bad" that a $340 million player doesn't have a concrete, full-time position play in his first action since early October of 2021? Does it seem smart to have him roving around the field at different positions, which is what manager Bob Melvin alluded to this week?
The Dodgers passed up on two $300 million shortstops the last two offseasons and managed to remain one of the best teams in MLB (both on the field and in preseason rankings). The Padres hit on one before the 2021 season ... and he's now positionless.
NEXT STORY: Padres-Manny Machado extension talks going south?