Dodgers: One year later the Yasiel Puig trade is a massive success
One year ago today the Dodgers shocked Dodger fans across the globe by trading away fan-favorite Yasiel Puig. The trade is a massive success.
One year ago today, Dodgers fans were busy prepping for another Christmas holiday when Andrew Friedman pulled off one of his biggest heists yet. The Dodgers traded Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, and Kyle Farmer away to the Reds for Homer Bailey, and two prospects named Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray.
Admittedly the deal looked a bit questionable at first. Yasiel Puig was coming off his typical 20 home run season, Matt Kemp had a revival season just a season before slugging 21 home runs, and Alex Wood followed up his breakout season with another solid season. On paper, the trade looked like a full-blown salary dump for the Dodgers who took on Homer Bailey’s one year salary in return.
Homer Bailey never threw a pitch for the Dodgers in 2019 and many believed this trade was clearing outfield room for a run at prized free-agent slugger Bryce Harper. The Dodgers made a run at Harper, flying out to meet him at his home in Las Vegas but they eventually settled for signing A.J. Pollock a few weeks later which didn’t make too many fans happy.
Well now a year later, the trade looks like a massive success. The two prospects the Dodgers landed, Gray and Downs, are the number four and five prospects in a loaded farm system and both also ranked in MLB’s top 100 prospects in September. Gray started his season in Great Lakes and ended his season with the Tulsa Drillers at the Double-A level.
Josiah earned his promotion by dominating the Cal League going a perfect 7-0 with a 2.14 ERA in twelve starts for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. In eight starts with the Drillers, he made eight starts and pitched to an ERA of 2.75. It was once thought that Gray would not be able to make it as a starter due to his secondary pitches but those thoughts now seem foolish. While he probably won’t make his big league debut in 2020, there is a good chance he gets the call in 2021.
Then there is Jeter Downs who also ended his minor league campaign with the Tulsa Drillers. With the Quakes, Downs hit 19 home runs and stole 23 bases before being promoted to Double-A where he played in just 12 games but managed to hit five home runs in his brief stint there. Where Jeter Downs plays in the big leagues remains to be seen but he played shortstop and second base in 2019. Some believe he could become a big-league centerfielder.
As if there needed to be any more explanation as to why the trade with the Reds was a resounding success, let’s take a look at what the former Dodgers did in 2019. Yasiel Puig hit 22 home runs with an average OPS of .777 before he was traded to the Cleveland Indians. Getting rid of Puig was addition by subtraction for LA as it gave them room to finally start Alex Verdugo.
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Matt Kemp played in just 20 games for the Reds before he was released and eventually hooked on with the New York Mets on a minor league deal. Kemp did not appear in the big leagues after signing his minor league contract but he was able to get another minor league deal with the Miami Marlins just a week ago. The Dodgers made the right call selling high on Kemp after his revival season in 2018.
Alex Wood battled back injuries in 2019 and pitched just 35 2/3 innings for the Cincinnati Reds. He was not very successful in Cincy as he pitched to an ERA of 5.80 and is now a free agent. Kyle Farmer had some success with the Reds last season as he managed to hit nine home runs but he never really had a future in Los Angeles since the team did not believe he could make it as a backup catcher.
After initially looking like a trade that sent away too much talent for nothing, the “Yasiel Puig trade” with the Reds is looking a gem on Andrew Friedman’s resumé just one year later. The Dodgers managed to get rid of three players who are now free agents and acquired two prospects that are in MLB’s top 100 prospects.
Even if the prospects never play in Los Angeles, they could be used to acquire talent in another trade. One year later the Puig trade is looking like a massive success and it could look even better if Jeter Downs or Josiah Gray carve out good big league careers with the Dodgers.