After not being traded before the August 1st non-waiver trade deadline, TJ wrote about embattled Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig. The young Cuban slugger with a powerful throwing arm was sent to the minors by the club after struggling to a .260/.320/.386 slash line in 303 plate appearances in 2016. Even worse than his lackluster statistics, Puig regressed to his immature ways and poor attitude that landed him in hot water with former manager Don Mattingly. Current skipper Dave Roberts would not tolerate Puig’s distractions, and still maintains the club is unsure if it will add Puig to the expanded roster come September.
On Sunday the team placed Puig on revocable trade waivers. The transaction comes as no surprise since teams are known to place underperforming, expensive players on waivers in August. He will remain on the waiver wire for up to 47 hours, during which it is likely at least one team will place a claim on him. In that event, the Dodgers will have the opportunity to work out a trade with that single team, permit the team to acquire Puig and his remaining $25 million contract, or pull Puig from the waiver wire if a deal cannot be agreed upon.
It seems unlikely the Dodgers will trade Puig through waivers since the claiming team will retain exclusive negotiating privileges, likely reducing the value the Dodgers would receive. If Los Angeles feels the deal is inadequate, the club can simply revoke the waiver and attempt to trade the outfielder in the offseason when all 31 teams can negotiate.
My opinion is simple: whichever team claims Puig needs to make its absolute best offer for the young outfielder. More than desiring a positive relationship with his coaches, Puig needs a sense of community in a major league clubhouse. He needs to play for a club with a significant number of international players on the roster. Remember, he’s a 25-year old living life a long way from home. It is easy for him to be distracted in Los Angeles. It is easy for him to lose his way. It is easy for him to feel alone. Like many other successful international players, he came to America only to play baseball. Surrounding Puig with players who have dealt with the same issues seems like the best situation from an outsider’s perspective.
What would it take to get Puig? Well, I would speculate the Dodgers would want one of a few potential pieces. First, they could opt for an arm suitable for the backend of the rotation to chew innings until Clayton Kershaw returns, at which point the pitcher could be used in long relief, or as a sixth starter. Second, they could look for another utility player. Even when the rosters expand in September, it can’t hurt to have another versatile defender with a decent bat on the squad. Lastly, the team could opt to replenish the farm system after trading a few upper-level prospects for Rich Hill and Josh Reddick. With Puig’s potential still very much the talk of MLB, the Dodgers could still reap significant value Puig’s respectable play in the minors. Of course, if the deep-pocketed Dodgers are willing to eat some of Puig’s remaining contract the team could request a higher-ranked prospect in return.
After successful 2013 and 2014 campaigns in which Puig finished top-20 in NL MVP voting and earned one All-Star appearance, I truly believe he can still be a dominant player in MLB. His physical ability is undeniable, but like late great Yogi Berra once said, “Baseball is ninety percent mental, and the other half is physical.”
Stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com