The excitement of the MLB offseason has kicked into high gear in recent days with trades and free-agent signings ramping up. However, on Monday we saw the other side of the coin as news came out of San Diego that star shortstop/outfielder Fernando Tatis Jr. fractured his wrist earlier in the offseason and will miss the start of the season.
Fernando Tatis Jr. fractured his wrist during the offseason, A.J. Preller said. He’s headed for a surgery that could come with a recovery time of up to three months.
— Dennis Lin (@dennistlin) March 14, 2022
As of now, it’s unclear exactly how long Tatis will be out. The Padres have stated that the recovery time from the surgery could be up to three months, but we’ve seen Tatis come back from injury relatively quickly in the past, like with his shoulder injury just last season. However, given the strain that swinging a bat puts on your wrist and the importance of Tatis to the Padres’ plans, it seems likely that the organization will be cautious with its star player.
So what will the Padres do to fill the void? Currently on the roster, they have two options at shortstop in Jurickson Profar and Ha-Seong Kim. Profar was the more impactful player in 2021, but still only hit .227 with four home runs, 47 runs, 33 RBI, and 10 steals in 412 plate appearances. Kim, who is three years younger, has much more intriguing upside but struggled in his first year coming over from Korea, hitting just .202 with eight home runs, 27 runs, 34 RBI, and six steals in 298 plate appearances.
Given Kim’s success in the KBO (Korean Baseball Organization) and his power-speed combo, it’s likely the Padres will give him the first crack at the starting job. After all, he did hit 30 home runs and steal 21 bases in Korea in 2020 after hitting 19 home runs and stealing 33 bases in 2019. Many people expected his transition to major league baseball to take a little bit of time, so it’s best to not write him off after just one season.
However, the loss of Tatis only underscores the larger problems for the Padres’ lineup. In addition to the new hole at shortstop, the Padres also have an opening in left field and are allegedly shopping starting first baseman Eric Hosmer and starting right fielder Wil Myers. General Manager A.J. Preller is known for his love of making deals, so there’s a good chance this is nowhere close to the lineup we see come Opening Day, but the task of putting together a playoff-caliber team just got much harder.