It’s time for the Padres to move Fernando Tatis Jr. to centerfield

Credit: Sports Illustrated

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It is time for the Padres to move Fernando Tatis Jr. to the centerfield position.

The San Diego Padres need offensive production from the centerfield position.

Trent Grisham is coming off two horrendous seasons in which the left-handed hitter finished under the Mendoza Line (.200 batting average) and produced a .626 and a .666 OPS. He was well below league average with the bat and constantly killed the Padres with his lack of offensive production. In an important season, Grisham proved to be an easy out at the bottom of the lineup.

It is time to do something about it.

In the meantime, Fernando Tatis Jr. was inserted into right field last season with the arrival of Xander Bogaerts. There were some concerns about whether Tatis would be able to adapt to the positional change. Not only did Tatis adjust, but he won a Gold Glove and was recognized as the Platinum Glove winner in the N.L. as the league’s best defender.

Fernando Tatis is blessed with above-average range and a cannon for an arm. His route running improved as the season went along. Early on, Tatis used his flat-out athleticism to correct his angles on the ball. He outran most of his mistakes. As the season progressed, so did the ability of Tatis to recognize the ball off the bat. He got noticeably better.

The 24-year-old enjoyed his time in the outfield and embraced the position. Tatis was seen interacting with the fans consistently. Dancing and joking with the fans was a frequent thing for the outfielder. On the road, Tatis was taunted for his PED suspension in 2022. Instead of getting frustrated with the abuse, he laughed and led the chorus of taunts with his arms like a conductor. Fernando Tatis Jr easily made the adjustments to the rigors of being an outfielder.

Now comes the question- could he handle a move to centerfield?

It may take some time, but there is no reason to believe that Tatis will not be, at the very least, an average centerfielder. His arm and speed will surely be useful on fly balls in the gap. Like playing right, it may take some time to adjust to the flight of the ball. However, Fernando Tatis is a baseball player in every sense of the word. It will take little to no time for him to gain the skills needed to play the position daily. And play it effectively.

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So, what do you do with Trent Grisham?

Grisham made $3.17 million last year and is not due for free agency until the end of the 2025 season. The two-time MLB Gold Glover centiceng to a team looking for centerfield help. If not tradeable, the Padres could DFA him and look for a cheaper alternative elsewhere. Or they could keep him and use him in a reserve role. Signing a left-hand hitting player like Travis Jankowski or Kevin Kiermaier to back up Tatis and provide a late-inning replacement would be advisable to San Diego as well. Just in case. Undoubtedly, Fernando Tatis Jr. can handle the center field, and It would be a smooth transition.

At his age and with that incredible athleticism, the transition would be smooth.

The Padres plan on competing in 2024, and having a solid lineup throughout would go a long way toward achieving that goal. If Tatis were in center field, the Padres could sign a veteran corner outfielder or give a young prospect like Graham Pauley, Jake Marsee, or Jackson Merrill an opportunity to earn playing time. All while saving money, as these young men would make the league minimum. There are definite advantages to Tatis in the middle outfield position.

The future is still very bright in San Diego. Despite the loss of their leader, the franchise is focused on a World Series title. Moving Fernando Tatis Jr. to centerfield could be the key to flipping the lineup around and gaining consistency with the Padres’ hitting. At this point, the team must do what is for the best of the franchise.

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