Fernando Tatis Drug Suspension Could Cost Collectors, Investors North of $100 Million
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images. Pictured: Fernando Tatis Jr.
When word circulated that San Diego Padres slugger Fernando Tatis Jr. tested positive for an anabolic steroid and would be suspended for 80 games, a group of fans had to feel sick.
They weren't feeling sick for the Padres, who signed Tatis to a $340 million contract, they were feeling sick at themselves for investing in the star.
As it turns out, Tatis will only lose some $2.86 million in salary for not playing those games, but the ramifications in the card market could top a nine-figure loss.
"When you take into consideration how much could have been lost here, you not only have to calculate all the trading cards that are graded and in collections, but also the trading cards that are not yet graded, all of the raw product in sealed boxes and cases that will be negatively impacted by this event," said Ken Goldin, executive chairman of Goldin Auctions. "To me, the total impact to the collecting community could approach $100 million, especially when you take into account that just one single card — the 2016 Bowman Chrome superfractor — likely had a decrease of $2.5 million in itself."
The owner of that 1/1 Tatis Superfractor, who goes by @TheCardBully on Instagram, spoke to The Action Network on Friday night.
"I'm really disappointed," he said. "There was so much anticipation for him to return next week. The disappointment has nothing to do with the short-term financial loss because the card wasn't even for sale. It's more of not being able to watch him play this season and into the beginning of next season."
The card collector said he bought the card in 2018 in a private deal "for a loaf of bread," but admitted he was offered $2 million for it at a card show in Philadelphia in Sept. 2021 and turned it down.
For his part, Goldin thinks that card is now worth $500,000.
"In my opinion, he can't ever fully recover from this," Goldin said. "Unless 20 years from now voters change their standards, there's no Hall of Fame for him."
The @cardbully disagrees, but of course, he’s pot committed.
"Pete Rose and Barry Bonds might not be able to get into the Hall of Fame and I don't think it has affected their high end value," he said. "This is so early in Tatis' career and I believe it will blow over far differently than it did with Barry Bonds, who people erroneously attribute his steroid use to his massive success."
David Ratliff of Signed and Slabbed, which sells signed and slabbed cards, says lack of trust will hurt Tatis cards as much as the steroid news itself.
"They're going to label him a cheater because he came up with an excuse," Ratliff said.
Tatis said he inadvertently tested positive as a result of using the drug to treat ringworm. The issue? Clostebol, which he tested positive for, is never used to treat ringworm. Perhaps whoever was giving him the information mixed it up with clobetasol.
"If he came out and said he was caught like Andy Petitte did, it would be different," Ratliff said. "But here it just seems like he felt the weight of his contract and he wanted to get back on the field and he isn't accepting responsibility. It's all a shame because he was the face of the league, he was super likable and he was so fun to watch."
How many others are affected by Tatis?
In July 2022, industry leading card grader PSA announced the most commonly graded baseball players in the month. Tatis was No. 3 only behind Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Trout — ahead of Derek Jeter and Shohei Ohtani.