TDG Roundtable: How to handle the Fernando Tatis Jr. injury
Every week on Fridays, our writers here at The Dynasty Guru will be bringing you some quick hit musings about a particular topic so you, the reader, can get a blast of info from a bunch of different writers with some passionate opinions. This week, our staff discusses the Fernando Tatis Jr. injury and how they would handle his injury from a re-draft and dynasty standpoint .
I remember seeing the injury on Twitter, Tatis Jr. swung and missed and then fell to the ground in pain. I felt like ABBA singing Fernando. “I was so afraid Fernando/We were young and full of life and none of us prepared to die.” I roster Tatis Jr. in both re-draft leagues as well as dynasty leagues. In TGFBI, he was my first overall pick but, you can still manage to compete. “Though I never thought that we could lose/There’s no regret/If I had to do the same again/I would, my friend, Fernando”
Sure, it is not how I expected things to go and there is no way you are going to find someone with Tatis Jr.’s talent on the waiver wire, but just keep grinding. With the prospect of him returning to the lineup soon-ish, maybe I can still get a couple of weeks of production before this happens again. Sadly, I think that based on how and what position he plays, this will continue to be an issue and he will get it addressed in the offseason. I also view this injury the same from a dynasty league standpoint. There is no way you can trade him at this point. Just ride the wave.
The Seller’s Window May Be About to Open
On April 5th, following a swing and miss, Fernando Tatis Jr. crumpled to the ground in pain as he clutched his left shoulder. It was later revealed that the superstar shortstop had suffered a shoulder subluxation and a partially torn labrum. Uh-oh! Jump ahead one week and there is actual talk of Tatis being activated after the minimum stay of 10 days on the injured list. BIGGER UH-OH!!!
I will lead with the disclaimer that I am not a medical professional, but I still do not believe this sounds like a good idea for the short-term or long-term health of El Niño. A shoulder subluxation is a partial dislocation of the joint in which the ligaments or labrum which hold the humerus bone in place become stretched or torn. The typical course of action is rest and rehabilitation to strengthen the joint, and surgical repair if necessary. As the shoulder starts to heal, the structure responsible for holding the shoulder in place will often heal in a loosened or stretched state, leaving the individual at an increased risk of future injury. Knowing this does make you wonder how ready Tatis is to be going through what sounds like full pre-game workouts only a week after his injury.
Using the Hitter Injury Dashboard created by Derek Rhoads (@drhoa3) I looked at shoulder subluxation injuries dating back to 2009. There were 31 injuries listed in the database during this timeframe, with an average number of days missed around 77 days. A few recurring names stood out in this list as players who have been dubbed “injury-prone” over the past few years in Michael Conforto and Byron Buxton. Conforto, who injured his shoulder on a similar swing and miss in 2017, ultimately required surgery and still had a repeat dislocation in 2018. Buxton first dislocated his shoulder while crashing into the wall attempting a catch in 2019, and had continued issues in 2020 despite also undergoing surgery. Both players sustained structural damage to their shoulders that ultimately required surgery for repair causing them to miss substantial time. Perhaps an even better comparison for this situation is Hanley Ramirez, who in his second major league season also suffered a shoulder subluxation on a swing and miss. Ramirez was able to miss minimal games and continued to perform at a very high level during the rest of the season, but he did ultimately require surgery on his shoulder in the offseason. Over the years following this injury the shoulder became more and more of a recurring issue and significantly hampered his overall career. You have to wonder if the initial rush in return to play never allowed the shoulder to heal properly and set him up for the chronic issues that followed.
So I presented all of this information to express my concern for the long-term outlook on Tatis and his ability to stay healthy and compete at a high level. I would not be shocked to see him back sooner than later and performing how we all expect, but this may present the opportunity to sell him in dynasty formats. Use his quick recovery to show other fantasy managers, “See no big deal, the shoulder is fine!” We all know that there is something up with his shoulder, and there has been for some time it seems. Plus it’s highly likely he will require surgery at some point to repair the partially torn labrum. Please, please, please hear me when I say, DO NOT SELL LOW. But if there is the possibility for an Acuña or Soto swap or some sort of package involving highly ranked dynasty players now may be the time to consider.
Don’t overthink this
I’m not a doctor. I don’t know a lot about shoulder subluxations. I could tell you what I learned reading about them for the last few minutes, but you can use Google, too.
I do, however, know a lot about baseball statistics. Here’s some of those.
Fernando Tatis Jr. is 22 years old. He has played in 148 Major League Baseball games and made 650 plate appearances, roughly one full season. He has a .297/.371/.575 slash line with 40 home runs, 115 runs scored, 99 runs batted in, and 27 stolen bases. Very few players produce numbers like that at any point in their careers, let alone before age 22. I know I’m not exactly sharing huge secrets here by pointing out that Tatis is really, really good. But it’s important not to lose sight of how good he is by overthinking this injury.
A rebuilding team could trade Tatis for unproven prospects. A contender could trade him for veterans who might decline soon. Every player comes with risks, but even with his ailing shoulder, Tatís still has fewer than most. Redraft leagues are different. I tend to err on the side of caution with injuries over the course of a single season. If Tatis misses a few weeks, or is hampered and suffers a small drop in production, you might be better off trading him for a player who was drafted in the second or third round.
But dynasty? No way. Keep him if you have him, trade for him if at all possible.
Well, unfortunately, Tatis Jr. is back on the Injured List. It happens. He’s young, he plays hard, he definitely swings hard, as anyone who has watched him at the plate can testify. But should you be swinging for the fences if you’re trying to trade him right now? Should you even trade him at all!?
To me, the answer is most likely a no. At least in dynasty, keep-forever leagues. Players like him don’t just grow on trees – at full health (and from what I can tell this is something that can heal, completely), he’s one of, if not the most dynamic player in the game, capable of propelling both real and fake teams to sweet, sweet victory in any given year.
I’d feel a bit better about trading him away in a redraft league, as you’re not playing the long game. The reality is that he may deal with this injury on and off throughout the season. Luckily, it sounds like he will be back in the lineup in the next week or so – if you’re considering trading him, I would at least wait until then, as his short-term trade value has temporarily bottomed out.
This may be boring…
I tried to think of ways to be different with my approach here, it didn’t work. I don’t see how you could do anything else but hold if you are a Tatis owner. It feels like a trap, one of those spots that you try to get cute, and you get burned. The only upside in the injury is that you will get owners who will seek you out and send some offers your way. Most will be bad offers, but some of my most lopsided trades were those that were unsolicited offers from another owner. The kind that you can’t smash the accept button fast enough. If I do not own Tatis in a league I would consider sending something over. You need to be careful not to offend the other owner, these are dynasty leagues and people have long memories when they feel that you are trying to rip them off. Tatis is a generational player and the owner likely has an unhealthy attachment to him already, don’t kick them while they are down, you may need them for another trade down the road.
Let’s pretend we are doctors!
The Tatis injury is a tragedy for every person in the universe. He had just arrived on your fantasy squad, ready to lay waste to your competition. First, let’s tackle what I would do in re-draft: SELL SELL SELL! If I had Tatis in a redraft league I would be selling as quickly as possible. I would have just used a top 5 pick on him and there are no keepers. The current thinking is that he will attempt to rehab a bit and return to the lineup. That rumor (plan?) is great for your chances at selling Tatis for something (or somethings) super valuable. I don’t want to live in a universe where Tatis attempts to come back from this injury this season, only to see it get worse and jeopardize his entire career. Sadly, we all might be living in that universe in the near future. You have to avoid the landmines in re-draft if you want to have a chance to win, and Tatis is starting to look like a landmine. If you hold until he comes back and sell him right after his first dinger, you may even get a full return for him. Now, let’s talk dynasty…
For me, the question comes down to how the Padres handle this injury. I am not a doctor, and I have never played one on TV, but I won an Operation tournament as a 6-year-old, so I feel qualified to speak on this topic. Real doctors have been quoted as saying that if Tatis went under the knife to fix this injury, he would have a high probability of returning to full health next season. Additionally, surgery would help to prevent this injury from happening over and over again for Fernando. If he doesn’t get the surgery, the chances of him aggravating the tear and damaging some ligaments, tendons, and muscles is a very real possibility. Not getting the surgery might mean that Tatis has to deal with shoulder issues all the time. He is a player who gives his all on every swing and every play. Chronic shoulder issues and explosive baseballing are not really something I want to invest in the long term. For these reasons, I am also selling Tatis in dynasty. Will tears be shed? Yes. Don’t blow this, San Diego.