When the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Yasiel Puig to a seven-year $42 million contract in 2012, the team hoped that it was acquiring the next great Cuban star. During Puig’s debut season in 2013, those hopes seemed to come true, as Yasiel hit 0.319 with a 0.391 OBP, 19 home runs, and 42 RBIs in only 104 games with the Dodgers.
Puig followed up his impressive rookie season by hitting 0.296 with a 0.382 OBP, 16 home runs, and 69 RBIs in 2014. Although those numbers weren’t quite as impressive as Yasiel’s 2013 campaign, they were still pretty solid stats for a 23-year-old who was only in his second MLB season.
Unfortunately for the Dodgers, Puig seemed to let his success get to his head and began to drive manager Don Mattingly, and some of his other teammates, crazy with his lack of hustle and his arrogant, showboating style. Yasiel became known for boneheaded base-running mistakes, a poor attitude, and overall selfish play.
Despite all of the issues, the Dodgers decided not to trade Puig during the offseason between the 2014 and 2015 seasons. The organization made major changes to the front office by bringing in former Tampa Bay Rays general manager Andrew Friedman, and it seemed to have given Yasiel a clean slate and an opportunity to make things right.
For the most part, Puig seemed to have fewer lapses in judgment, but his overall play suffered in 2015. Yasiel finished the season batting 0.255 with a 0.322 OBP, 11 home runs, and 38 RBIs in only 79 games as he battled a hamstring strain to each leg and missed over half the season.
Due to his sub-par play and injuries, Puig’s trade value reached its lowest point heading into this past offseason which kind of tied the hands of Friedman and the Dodgers’ front office. It gave Yasiel one more opportunity to turn things around and make an impression on the front office and new manager Dave Roberts heading into 2016.
Yasiel Puig started off 2016 slow and then hit the disabled list with yet another hamstring injury on May 31. Puig is currently hitting 0.256 with a 0.319 OBP, seven home runs, and 28 RBIs in 72 games. Those numbers are eerily similar to the stats Yasiel put up in 2015 in roughly the same amount of games, and it apparently has the Dodgers ready to give up on Puig. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports is reporting that the team is shopping its right fielder.
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) July 11, 2016
Although it’s possible Yasiel has already hit his ceiling, there are likely a number of teams that are blinded by his potential and would be interested in taking a chance on the 25-year-old. The Dodgers, on the other hand, are about to have a logjam in the outfield after Joc Pederson and Andre Ethier return from the disabled list. With the emergence of Trayce Thompson, the team has Pederson, Ethier, Thompson, Scott Van Slyke, and Howie Kendrick, who all play the outfield. That’s five players for three positions, and it makes Puig expendable.
The Dodgers have also been tied to Cincinnati Reds right fielder Jay Bruce in trade talks. Although many may ask why the Dodgers would be interested in yet another outfielder if the team is willing to put Puig on the trade market, the answer is because Bruce offers more in the way of power and the ability to drive in runs from the middle of the order.
Kicking the tires on Yasiel Puig https://t.co/NBwFfLNaL5
— viva el birdos (@vivaelbirdos) July 11, 2016
In exchange for Yasiel, the Dodgers will likely be looking for a starting pitcher. Clayton Kershaw is on the disabled list with a back injury, and although Los Angeles just got Hyun-jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy back from injury, there’s still risk involved with each guy. Adding one more elite starting pitcher would give the Dodgers an opportunity to take some of the pressure off of each of those guys.
As a fan of the game, it’s tough to see someone like Puig fall off so quickly, but perhaps a change of scenery is all he needs to jump start his career once again. Either way, it seems we might get our answer on Yasiel Puig prior to the August 1 trade deadline.
[Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images]