The likes of Matt Kemp, Kike Hernandez, and the newly retired Andre Ethier come to mind when thinking of players who have captured the hearts of Dodger fans. However, it’s hard to say that any current player has the type of following Yasiel Puig has. Despite this, it seems as though his time as a Dodger will be coming to an end sooner rather than later.
Yasiel Puig burst onto the scene as a bright-eyed rookie in 2013. He flashed all five of his tools in the immediate aftermath of his call-up. He played with a certain passion and flare that captured the hearts of the heavy Latino fan base of Los Angeles. He went onto have a remarkable season, finishing fifteenth in MVP voting and second in ROY voting behind the late Jose Fernandez.
Unfortunately for Puig, his debut season would be the best of his career. Mostly due to injury, but “growing up” on the job also factored into his regression. He did make his only all-star game during his sophomore season, but his season was still not as good as his rookie year.
His 3rd and 4th seasons were both plagued with injuries, from his hamstring to his shoulder. When you play the game as hard as Yasiel Puig does, injuries are bound to happen. He plays with no regard for his health and that is really fun to watch and great to see him do anything to help his team win, but it can also be troublesome.
In his 5th season, Puig looked like he finally turned the corner on his career and was becoming the player everyone expected he’d become after his rookie year.
Yet, here we are in his 6th season, and once again he has been hampered by injuries. Meaning in half of his 6 years in the bigs, Yasiel Puig has missed significant time with an injury. Still, Puig remains one of the most popular players on this team.
But in the end, this is a business, not a popularity contest. This team is loaded with tons of outfield talent. Yasiel Puig is no longer as valuable to this team as he once was. That has become apparent with his name being mentioned in many trade rumors as of late.
This conversation would be completely different if Puig would have continued to build on his 2017 season with another tremendous 2018 performance, But thus far, it has been lackluster to say the very least.
The outfield is already crowded as it is, and with the biggest free agent class in years looming, Puig’s future as a Dodger is a question. Matt Kemp, Joc Pederson, Enrique Hernandez, Alex Verdugo are just a few of the players who could all be starters for this team. If the Dodgers can add Bryce Harper or retain Manny Machado this off-season that makes Puig’s future even more worrisome.
Adding Harper would effectively be upgrading on Puig and almost certainly spell the end of Puig. Retaining Manny Machado could be even worse for Puig if he wants to remain a Dodger.
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If Machado decides to stay in Los Angeles at the end of the season it could become a very complicated situation. Let’s not forget that one of the top shortstops in baseball is still a Dodger. Corey Seager should be well enough to return by next season. Creating chaos if Machado is retained.
This would likely push Chris Taylor back into the outfield and maybe even Cody Bellinger. This would mean an infield of Turner-Muncy-Machado-Seager. The positions would be tough to decide but my guess would be: Muncy 1B, Seager 2B, Machado SS and Turner 3B. Meaning Bellinger could find himself playing outfield, crowding the outfield even further.
Not to mention Puig is due to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2019 season. It is hard to see the Dodgers re-signing Puig if they do land one of the big fish in Machado or Harper. SO even if Puig survives not being traded, his days as a Dodger are still numbered.
Andrew Friedman has shown before that he is not scared of trading a fan favorite. He did so as soon as he stepped in the door and immediately moved Matt Kemp to the Padres. Even more recently Friedman dumped Adrian Gonzalez who was a fan favorite that just didn’t fit with the team anymore. The same could be said about Puig.
As much as fans might love Yasiel Puig, unless the Dodgers whiff in free agency, Puig will not be a Dodger for much longer.