It’s the rumor that will never die, as there is speculation, as always, that the Dodgers could be willing to move Yasiel Puig in the offseason.
Under the new front office, the Dodgers have made it clear that they aren’t afraid to pull the trigger on any move if they feel that it will improve the team. Latest rumors have the Cleveland Indians discussing a pitching-outfield swap with a number of teams, including the Dodgers. Between 2014 Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer they have enough young pitching to potentially gain a huge boost in their outfield.
Enter Puig, who is coming off a down, injury-plagued year. Despite that, everyone in baseball knows that when he’s right, he may be one of the most talented and exciting players on the field. He’s still only 24 and on an extremely team-friendly contract, so I don’t see a whole lot of reason to trade him.
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The Indians have been attached to a number of “available” outfielders, including Puig and the Yankees’ Brett Gardner. Their one great outfielder, Michael Brantley (who has quietly been an absolute stud), could be sidelined for the beginning of the season after having shoulder surgery earlier this month. After him, there’s not much in their outfield and they’re rumored to be heavily involved in the outfield market.
There seems to be a logical fit with the Dodgers, who seemingly always have too many outfielders and could probably move a couple in the offseason. If they could find a suitor, Carl Crawford could be on the move but the Dodgers would probably have to eat too much money and not get anything back in return. Andre Ethier is coming off an incredible year, but he’s expensive and old and a platoon player. Scott Van Slyke took a step back last year but is cheap enough to have some trade value for a team in need of a righty bat.
Sep 23, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber (28) pitches to the Minnesota Twins in the fourth inning at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Puig and Joc Pederson undoubtably have the most trade value among Dodger outfielders, but it doesn’t make sense to move either of them right now. There are exceptions, but I wouldn’t move either of them without getting a HAUL back. Pederson showed a lot of promise in the first half and while his defense and ability to walk are unquestionable, but his second half raised a bunch of questions. I’d still love to see him in center next year, but he shouldn’t be untouchable. Neither should Puig, but with either of them the Dodgers need to get a haul back.
I’m not sure any of the possible Cleveland pitchers would be worth Puig or Joc. Kluber is obviously a legit ace and Carrasco is very good and on a friendly contract, but there’s pitching to be had. Moving one of those two outfielders leaves a hole in the outfield (not really down for Ethier AND Crawford being everyday starters). It’s easier to sign pitchers than to trade for one in this offseason, and there are smaller trade possibilities out there that don’t involve Puig. He’s not untouchable, but moving him for Carrasco would leave a bad taste in my mouth. Kluber would be more tolerable, but there’s enough pitching available in free agency that the Dodgers don’t have to acquire it via trade (at least this early).
It’s worth keeping tabs on and starting to look into some of the pitching Cleveland has to offer, but I’d prefer for the Dodgers to upgrade their pitching via free agency than to trade a young, team controlled dynamic outfielder like Puig (or Joc). There are other options out there, as the Dodgers have reportedly had discussions about Shelby Miller and been in contact with John Lackey.
More likely than not, the Dodgers will be extremely busy in the net few months and there will be plenty of rumors and moves to talk about. It seems like the Dodgers will have a manager soon enough and there are plenty of reasons to be excited for the rest of the offseason and the 2016 season.