As Los Angeles Dodgers fans and players alike await the return of the Major League Baseball season, one former Dodger is still hoping to latch on with a new club.
Yasiel Puig has not been a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers since the end of the 2018 season, but he still holds a special place in the hearts of Dodgers fans. His energy and character helped to endear him to Dodgers faithful over the course of his six years in Chavez Ravine and ultimately, we all wish the best for the 29-year-old outfielder.
That’s why it is a bit perplexing as to why Puig still sits as one of the few unsigned free agents in Major League Baseball.
Puig entered the winter as the 37th-ranked free agent according to MLB Trade Rumors, who at the time predicted the charismatic outfielder to land a deal in the range of $9 million per season. In fact, there was some discussion that he turned down a one-year, $10 million deal with a National League club, according to Bill Shaikin at the Los Angeles Times. That may have involved the Marlins, who reportedly met with Puig in December, but they ultimately settled for Corey Dickerson instead. There were also reports that the rival Giants showed interest, but that match always seemed a bit far-fetched given Puig’s past issues with the club and San Francisco brought back Hunter Pence instead.
Since then, it has been a little while since we heard Puig’s name mentioned on the rumor wire. Of course, there is little to no business in baseball being conducted against the backdrop of the Coronavirus outbreak, which limits the opportunities for clubs to meet and evaluate players, let alone work them out.
So why has Puig’s market been so limited this winter/spring? The answer likely lies between the value Puig sees in himself and what interested teams actually feel he is worth.
As a member of the Dodgers, Puig was always a question of potential versus performance. While he at times showed the possibility of power, he never really contributed it on the field. Over the course of his career, he has been about league average in ISO (Isolated Power – .198 career mark), despite topping the 20-home run mark in each of his last three seasons. Likewise, while he was a wRC+ darling during the first two seasons of his career, he has dwindled back toward league average in that category as well, including a mark of 101 last season. All that has led to just a total of 8.4 Wins Above Replacement since 2014.
Needless to say, Puig reaching for a deal over $10 million annually, let alone a multi-year deal on the back of a league-average productive season, is likely the reason Puig still sits alone on the market. Given the state of the market, and the season as a whole at this point, if Puig wants to play in 2020, he’ll likely need to take a make-good, one-year deal with a non-contender with the hopes of building more value for next winter. That will give him the chance to enter the market one again at age-30 and hopefully pull in one more multi-year deal.
It’ll be a tough pill to swallow for a man who carries a lot of pride, but in all likelihood, it is the only option left. Otherwise, the cheese will continue to stand alone.
Where do you think Yasiel Puig lands in 2020?