The Wild Horse has had a wild ride with Los Angeles, but should it continue?
The date is June 3rd, 2013, the Dodgers are hosting the San Diego Padres. Los Angeles is amidst a disappointing 2013 campaign in which they are 24-32, good enough for last place. Young Cuban talent Yasiel Puig made his debut, where he went 2-4, ending the game on a laser throw to first base. The very next day, Puig homered twice, driving in five runs to lead Los Angeles to a come from behind victory. Puig continued to bat .436 with seven homers and 16 runs batted in. As Vin Scully stated: “Havana, Cuba has arrived!”
Not only did Puig have a tremendous June, he led Los Angeles from last place to first place. Los Angeles went on a 46-10 stretch, leading the boys in blue to finish with 92 wins. Next season at the end of May Puig had eleven homers and forty runs batted in. The problem is, after May of 2014, Puig hasn’t been fantastic.
Although Puig still shows signs of great athleticism, the offensive numbers have lacked. The last two seasons in particular have been lackluster, Puig failing to bat over .263. In these two seasons combined he has only hit three more home runs (22) than his rookie season (19). Not only have pitchers figured Puig out, he cannot stay healthy. The last two seasons Yasiel Puig has missed 141 games due to a plethora of various injuries. Regardless, Puig is still a great talent that has tremendous upside, the problem is the Dodgers already have a young crowded outfield. Veterans Andre Ethier, Howie Kendrick and potential returner Josh Reddick join young upstarts Joc Pederson, Trayce Thompson, and Andrew Toles. With all this talent, Los Angeles can pull strings and trade an outfielder. Therefore, Los Angeles should pull the trigger while the potential for Puig is still high.
Potential Landing Spots:
Yasiel Puig is still a talented outfielder, likely being able to start for various MLB teams. Sure, his bat has declined, but he still showcases his tremendous athletic ability, speed, and fielding. Several MLB teams could benefit from Yasiel Puig, however only a few can offer the right package to Los Angeles. Personally, I believe that Los Angeles should pursue Major League talent that can contribute now to a World Series run.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim:
The Angels have the best player in baseball, which happens to be an outfielder, and still lack talent in the outfield. Mike Trout is phenomenal, and Kole Calhoun is a solid player. However outside of those two the Angels have very little in the outfield. Yasiel Puig could play right field, moving Calhoun to left, and now Anaheim has a formidable outfield. The only way the Angels could get Puig though would be by giving up bullpen guys like Huston Street, or starters like Tyler Skaggs, Garrett Richards, or Matt Shoemaker. I highly doubt seeing the Angels giving up some of their very thin pitching talent, so although they are a fit, they may not want to pull the trigger.
During the season, the Brewers and Dodgers reportedly discussed a deal swapping Yasiel Puig and Ryan Braun. Although talks apparently fell through, Milwaukee and Los Angeles could still find themselves as trading partners this off-season. As discussed before, Jonathan Villar could provide a safety option to Los Angeles is Justin Turner does not resign. Villar would provide a top of the lineup bat, allowing Corey Seager to move to third base. If the Brewers packaged Villar with Braun I could see Los Angeles pulling the trigger, however they would likely have to offer more than Puig. Instead of Braun, I would like to see LA receive Villar and a young arm like Zach Davies.
New York Yankees:
Yasiel Puig would perhaps succeed the most in Yankee Stadium, as he has batted .357 with two home runs in fourteen at bats there. New York has been rebuilding for the future, and Puig could provide the gateway from now to then. A young talent who would love the New York spotlight, the Yanks might even convince Puig to stick around for a long time, if he succeeds. A straight up swap between Michael Pineda and Yasiel Puig could happen. Los Angeles could lock Pineda up until 2018, and he provides a much-needed talented right-handed pitching option. Pineda would thrive in the National League too. Pineda has posted an 6-3 record with 2.80 ERA and a 9.1 K/9.
Regardless what Los Angeles decides to do with Yasiel Puig potential is present. The Dodgers could hold on to his talent, hoping his potential flourishes in the coming year. They could also cash in while his value is high, and benefit in areas that are more needed than the outfield. Wherever Puig finds himself in the coming years, I know he will still entertain (and annoy) baseball fans everywhere.