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Fernando Tatis Jr. Embraces Versatility

Fernando Tatis Jr.

Fernando Tatis Jr.

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Dave Shovein takes a look at the Padres’ plan for Fernando Tatis Jr. and the Dodgers reuniting with Yusniel Diaz in Monday’s Offseason Lowdown.

Fernando Tatis Jr. Embracing Versatility

Padres superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. told reporters on Saturday that he’s open to playing any position for the Padres during the 2023 season.

Given how things have gone for Tatis Jr. the last few seasons – from injuring his shoulder in a motorcycle accident to receiving an 80-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs – it’s definitely in his best interest to keep quiet and do anything and everything that the team asks of him.

Tatis Jr. added that his shoulder is as close to 100 percent as it’s been in the last two years. He’s also been working out this offseason at several infield and outfield positions -- presumably shortstop in addition to left and center field -- in an effort to be ready to fill a multi-positional role when he returns from that 80-game ban on April 20.

There hasn’t been any clarity yet from the Padres on the 24-year-old fantasy superstar’s role this upcoming season, but veteran Xander Bogaerts figures to be the team’s starting shortstop and Ha Seong Kim has already said that he will see most of his action at second base. That makes it increasingly likely that Tatis Jr. will see the bulk of his action in left field.

When healthy, there’s no denying the 24-year-old’s unbelievable ability on the field. For his career, he has slashed a robust .292/.369/.596 with 210 runs scored, 81 homers, 195 RBI and 52 stolen bases through his first 1175 plate appearances – giving phenomenal five-category production. The last we saw him, he led all of baseball with 42 home runs in only 130 games during the 2021 season.

There’s obviously uncertainty around him entering the 2023 season. How will he respond after missing the entire 2022 season? How big of an impact did the performance-enhancing drugs have on his previous performance? Can he stay healthy for an entire season? How far does he get knocked for having to miss the first 20 games of the season?

Even with those concerns, Tatis Jr. is at the top of minds for fantasy managers. Over the past month, his average draft position in NFBC Draft Champions leagues sits at pick 18 overall – with a high of pick 11 and a low of pick 25. If everything goes right for him, he absolutely has the tools to deliver profit from that position – especially when you factor in the replacement-level production that you’ll get from someone else for those first three weeks of the season.

It’s still a gamble in the second round of drafts – and not for the risk-averse drafter – but it’s a gamble that could pay off handsomely at season’s end.

Dodgers reunite with Yusniel Diaz

At one point in time, Cuban outfielder Yusniel Diaz was considered one of the top up-and-coming prospects in Major League Baseball. He was considered a consensus top-50 prospect heading into the 2019 season – and ranked as high as 37th in baseball according to Baseball America.

Those rankings came after the mid-season trade in 2018 that sent Diaz from the Dodgers to the Orioles as the main piece in the Manny Machado trade. Unfortunately, it has been all downhill for Diaz since then.

In 2021 he slashed a horrifying .161/.233/.265 with just five homers, 22 RBI and two stolen bases over 65 games between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. Things got a little better in 2021, but he still hit just .252/.348/.372 with seven homers, 37 RBI and nine swipes in 77 games, mostly at Triple-A Norfolk.

Now, he’ll return to the Dodgers on a minor league contract with an invitation, looking to get his career back on track. Still just 26-years-old, it’s likely that we haven’t seen his best work yet and if there’s any organization that can help him resurrect his floundering career, it’s the Dodgers. He’s a name that’s worth remembering in the final rounds of the deepest mixed league and NL-only drafts.

MLB Quick Hits: Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Giants have had discussions with right-hander Logan Webb about a long-term contract extension… Max Fried lost his arbitration hearing against the Braves and will make $13.5 million in 2023… Royals general manager J.J. Picollo told reporters on Saturday that the club has already started to explore long-term extensions with Bobby Witt Jr., Vinnie Pasquantino and Brady Singer… The Dodgers signed shortstop Miguel Rojas to a one-year, $6 million contract extension for 2024 – plus a $5 million club option for the 2025 season… Nick Vespi (abdomen) is hopeful that he’ll be ready for Opening Day… The Giants officially signed veteran backstop Roberto Pérez to a minor league contract with an invitation to big league camp… Angels’ general manager Perry Minasian announced that Shohei Ohtani will make one Cactus League start for the Angels before joining Team Japan for the World Baseball Classic… The Nationals inked right-hander Chad Kuhl to a minor league deal with a spring training invitation… The Reds brought in Nick Plummer and Nick Martini on minor league contracts… The Red Sox signed right-hander Jake Faria to a minor league deal… The Royals plan to roll with Hunter Dozier as their starting third baseman to begin the 2023 season… The White Sox are expected to have Lenyn Sosa and Romy Gonzalez compete for their starting gig at second base… The Mariners sent J.B. Bukauskas outright to Triple-A Tacoma… Veteran left-hander Jake McGee announced his retirement from professional baseball… The Cubs brought in Curtis Taylor on a minor league contract… The Twins re-signed Aaron Sanchez to a minor league pact… The Nationals picked up Blake Rutherford on a minor league deal… The Twins signed Locke St. John to a minors contract… Dodgers signed Robbie Erlin and Luke Williams to minor league contracts with invitations to big league camp… The White Sox acquired right-hander Franklin German from the Red Sox for minor league righty Theo Denlinger.