Yasiel Puig’s ‘secret settlements’ give Dodgers and MLB another black eye

Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

After an extended baseball exile, former Los Angeles Dodgers lightning rod Yasiel Puig found a home in the game again this offseason, inking a one-year deal with the Korean Baseball Organization’s Kiwoom Heroes.

Though likely not the slugger’s preferred destination, it turns out he should be considerably thankful that he gets to play the game at all.

For years, allegations of sexual assault have floated about Puig’s head, likely the cause of his disappearance prior to the 2021 season. These accusations have been flitted at and accepted rather than analyzed by the baseball-viewing public, though. They’ve been neither acknowledged or examined.

In the wake of a season half-dominated by Trevor Bauer’s abhorrent reported actions and subsequent kicking of the can down the line by MLB with regard to his ultimate punishment, it’s only appropriate that now is the moment the Puig situation clarified itself. And the way it was handled serves as another stain on the Dodgers’ and MLB’s recent complicated (well, often uncomplicated and negligent) legacy on these matters.

According to a Washington Post report, which emerged after Puig’s deal in Korea became official, two women accused Puig of two separate assaults that reportedly occurred on back-to-back days prior to the 2017 season. Both women’s stories sound very much like what Bauer has been accused of, resulting in his removal from the 2021 season’s narrative.

Instead of a similar result, Puig and attorney Gloria Allred reached secret settlements with both women. MLB placed him on no list. The Dodgers put forth no argument. Puig played, and starred, through all of 2017.

The Dodgers and MLB helped cover up Yasiel Puig’s sexual assault allegations.

According to the Post, Puig’s first accuser came forward on Jan. 30, 2017, to report on an alleged incident that occurred following the Dodgers’ FanFest. Soon after, another woman claimed that one day before (Jan. 29), she, too, had gone out with Puig and had the night end in violence.

From there, though, the case proceeded very differently from the way Bauer’s did in 2021; namely, no efforts were made to halt Puig’s season in its tracks. Not by the Dodgers. Not by the league.

"Major League Baseball learned of the allegations during the 2017 season, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly. But instead of placing Puig on paid administrative leave while it investigated — as it often has done in cases when the allegations are public, including this year with Dodgers star pitcher Trevor Bauer — MLB allowed him to play on.MLB did get Puig to grant the women permission to speak with investigators, the people familiar with the situation said. But it’s not clear whether the women chose to do so. MLB closed its investigation without taking action, a decision “based on the evidence available to league investigators,” according to an MLB spokesman. Puig then had one of the best seasons of his career, helping the 2017 Dodgers get within one win of a World Series championship."

Of course, those 2017 Dodgers nearly won a title, coming one game short as Puig OPS’d .833 with 28 home runs, none of which should’ve counted if things had been properly handled.

It now seems that Puig’s career will resume overseas, though there is a chance the resulting backlash nixes that deal before it begins.

Just because Puig will be playing in relative obscurity stateside does not mean that we can willfully ignore the details we’ve recently learned that MLB tried so hard to keep from us. In this case, what’s done is never really done.