The Tatis Conundrum

Fernando Tatis, Jr. entered fantasy baseball draft prep season as the No. 1 player on many draft boards despite injury concerns stemming from multiple IL trips in 2021 due to a shoulder injury. This time, it’s a fractured wrist that will keep Tatis out for approximately half of the 2022 season. That was bad news for anyone (like me) who drafted him before the injury was disclosed.  

Players competing in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship leagues have been drafting him at an average value of 54 since the injury announcement last Monday. But if you’re drafting right now, you probably wouldn’t take Tatis with one of the top 100 picks. His consensus ranking at Yahoo is currently 101 overall, FantasyPros is 103 and Razaball has him at 155.

I took a chance and took Tatis second overall in a pre-injury draft because I believe he’s the best player in fantasy on a per-game basis. If he returns healthy on June 15th, as projected, he’s going to be the best player in my lineup. But that’s if. He could have a setback and not be return until July, or August. Or, the Padres might shut him down if they are out of contention.

If you have an IL spot, I wouldn’t hesitate to take Tatis in the 10th round of a 12-team league draft. You can stash him until he returns. It’s not like you get a zero in your lineup when Tatis is out. Rotowire still projects him for 68 runs, 25 home runs, 63 RBI, 16 steals and a .284 average over 100 games. Why not use a late draft pick and take Gio Urshela as a replacement?

If you project 100 game for Tatis and combine that with 60 for Urshela, you get 89 runs, 31 home runs, 87 RBI 16 steals (I’m projecting zero for Urshela) and a .285 average. That’s a pretty good player. That’s assuming that Tatis does return on June 15th and is healthy. That’s a big if in my book and that’s why I spent most of last week shopping him (to no avail).

I made four trade offers to three different managers in the league where I had drafted Tatis. Initially, I asked for Kris Bryant who has a current ADP of 80 at NFBC. Declined. Then, I offered Tatis for Tyler O’Neill, who has an ADP of 45 at NFBC but was drafted 108 in this ESPN league. Declined. Tatis for Josh Bell, ADP 123, was also declined.

The fourth trade floated was a multi-player offer made to the Bryant team manager since because I really wanted Bryant. Our draft had occurred before the latter had signed his deal with the Rockies. The thin air in Colorado was alluring, and I was willing to even give up Ryan Pressly to get him. But my offer of Tatis and Pressly for Bryant and O’Neill was also turned down.   

I also turned down other lowball offers not mentioned, and they aren’t worth discussing. Suffice it to say, that I didn’t find a lot of interest in Tatis. Based on the offers that I made that were not accepted, I would conclude that Razzball’s ADP of 155 is closer to the right price for an elite player who will miss three months of the season. But I’m happy to hang on to Tatis.

It was also interesting to see where Tatis was being traded in another league. Yahoo tracks this and reported that on March 20, someone traded Tatis and Rafael Devers for Max Scherzer and Juan Soto. That former Tatis manager had to be happy with that deal. Another Tatis manager traded him and Freddie Freeman for Nolan Arenado and Matt Olson. That wasn’t so good.

On March 19, someone was willing to give up Bo Bichette for Tatis. That was really puzzling since Bichette is considered by many to be in the top 5 overall. Another Tatis manager traded him for Charlie Morton. On March 17th, someone traded Tatis for Michael Brantley, C.J. Cron, A.J. Pollock, Eduardo Escobar and Mark Melancon. On March 16th, someone traded Tatis for Julio Urias and Javier Baez. Someone else traded him for George Springer.

On March 15th, someone traded Tatis for Giancarlo Stanton and Brandon Crawford. Someone else traded Tatis for Wander Franco, Gary Sanchez and Eugenio Suarez. Tatis’ manager got Ian Anderson and Bobby Witt, Jr. There were numerous other multi-player deals made involving Tatis, but you get the idea. He can be moved if you find the right deal to make.

But where should you take Tatis in a draft today? As previously stated, you can take Tatis as early as the 10th round in a 12-team league and hope to still get value from him in a 162-game season. The caveat is that you need to have an IL spot. Without an IL spot, he becomes dead weight. And if someone takes him before the 10th round, don’t lose sleep over it.

Follow Thomas L. Seltzer, AKA Doubting Thomas, on Twitter @ThomasLSeltzer1.

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