Others may wonder if this is an opportunity to buy low and sell high. So, to answer all your questions, we present you with a guide to the Fernando Tatis Jr. suspension and what could be in store for his card values.
The Padre’s star has been suspended for 80 games following a positive test for Clostebol. That is a substance forbidden by the MLB for its performance-enhancing qualities.
Tatis Jr. insists he did not take performance-enhancing drugs. Instead, as he explained;
“It turns out that I inadvertently took a medication to treat ringworm that contained Clostebol. I should have used the resources available to me to ensure that no banned substances were in what I took. I failed to do so.” Is that true? Your guess is as good as mine.”
Many of the details are still unclear. However, this is what we know. Fernando Tatis Jr. has been officially suspended for 80 games after testing positive for Clostebol. The substance is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned list under the anabolic agent category.
In other words, it is a derivative of the old-school steroids that plagued the game in the 1990s. Indeed, this substance has a particularly dark history. It was developed by the notorious drug-happy East German Olympic organization.
Back then, the Communist Germans combined Colestobol with other substances and created Oral Turinabol. That powerful performance-enhancing substance helped their athletes set world records.
So, there is no way around it. Tatis Jr. was found positive for doping with a performance-enhancing substance. Notably, he got a much shorter suspension than some more serious offenders, such as Robinson Cano or Jenrry Mejía. However, that is because it is his first offense. It is not a reflection of the severity of his infraction.
The fact that Fernando is being suspended for 80 games is not a massive problem in and of itself. Some players have been caught doping and suspended for similar time frames without a meaningful mark against their reputations.
However, when we think of Starling Marte or David Wright, their 80-game suspensions are not the first thing that comes to mind.
But Tatis Jr. has shown a clear pattern of concerning behavior. Even the Padres front office has gone public with its unhappiness. Padres president of baseball operations A.J. Preller made the following statement:
“I think we’re hoping that from the offseason to now, there would be some maturity. And obviously, with the news today, it’s more of a pattern and something we’ve got to dig a little bit more into. I’m sure he’s very disappointed, but at the end of the day, it’s one thing to say. You have to start by showing it with your actions.”
Front offices are not usually that harsh unless there is a severe problem. But in this case, there is one.
However, the consequences of the suspension cannot be waived away. They may be dramatic. On the face of it, Tatis Jr. seems like a natural future Hall of Famer. He literally does everything well, and his stats (both advanced and traditional) are eye-popping.
But even before this suspension, there were some question marks regarding the player. First, he is remarkably injury-prone. Keep in mind that the shortstop has not played a single game this year. We must also remember that Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds are not in the Hall of Fame, despite never failing an official drug test.
Long-term card value strongly depends on Hall of Fame electability. Right now, his ability to get enshrined is in serious doubt. We will have to see how this incident is evaluated in the long term. The shortstop is trying to frame this as a stupid accident.
How this sticks to his legacy depends on how acceptable PED lapses will be in the distant future when he is eligible. One thing is for sure; if he is caught using PEDs again, his career will be forever tarnished.
Even if Tatis Jr. never has further drug suspension problems, that is not the only issue hanging over his career. The shortstop gets injured. A lot.
Here are the biggest ones that have cost Fernando the most playing time:
It is unclear how injury prone he is in the purely physical sense. There is certainly a chance that this is part of the problem. But just as concerning is the evidence of a mental issue connected with his PED suspension.
The most apparent evidence of this is his 2022 motorcycle injury. Remember that Tatis Jr. had not played a single game in 2022, even before this incident. Worse, the problem did not stem from some unavoidable physical issue.
Instead, he had an accident while riding his motorcycle. When a reporter asked him about the incident, Fernando answered, “which one?” To me, this shows a lack of seriousness and professionalism.
If Tatis had not learned his lesson from multiple injuries, why would he do better concerning illicit substances?
We don’t know the extent of the damage to Tatis Jr.’s reputation yet. But assuming that he is tarnished at least somewhat, what will it do to his card values? Let’s leave Barry Bonds out of this discussion because statistically, he is probably the best hitter in baseball history and, therefore, an anomaly.
Let’s look at players with more normal Hall of Fame caliber careers, kept out because of suspected or proven steroid use.
I will compare the two Red Sox stars, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. Ortiz was recently inducted into the Hall, while Manny is kept out for PED-related reasons.
How do their key rookie cards compare? Here are a couple of PSA 10 examples (aside from the Manny auto, which is just authenticated):
We can look at two comparable legendary pitchers as well. Pedro Martinez was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2015. Meanwhile, Clemens remains outside due to credible allegations of consistent steroid use. Here is a comparison of PSA 10s of their rookie cards:
So, there are no rules for how a PED suspension influences card prices. It depends on whether the player creates a certain amount of mystique. If a player is well known enough, their exclusion from the Hall of Fame may even benefit their reputation through notoriety. Think, for example, of Pete Rose or “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.
Tatis cards will see their value decrease in the short term. It will be partially a reaction to the suspension, which clouds the future collectability of the shortstop. But he will continue to be out of sight while other excellent players come to the fore.
But of course, with his talent, Fernando Tatis Jr. will always find a team willing to put him in the lineup. So, he will have the opportunity to salvage his reputation. We are trained to think of low prices as an opportunity to sell low and buy high.
Fernando’s best-case scenario sees him emerge as an excellent player with a dark reputation. Nevertheless, he is someone who deserves to enter the Hall of Fame and generates a significant amount of controversy around his eligibility. The Roger Clemens precedent shows that could be good for value.
If you believe Tatis Jr. is just young and immature but will soon get his head together, there may be a significant investment opportunity here. His setbacks may make Fernando’s eventual triumph all the more dramatic and memorable.
However, in my opinion, the downside is now too big for a significant investment in Tatis. Sure, I may live to regret writing this. However, the twin dangers of injury and further PED suspensions cast a deep shadow on his future prospects.