(Photo Credit: scout.com)
It seems like it happens almost every year around this time — the front office crew of the Dodgers putting their heads together trying to decide whether the potentially positive traits around right-fielder Yasiel Puig outweigh those of the negative nature, and determining if the 25-year-old Cuban native fits into the long term plans of the club moving forward.
According to a video featuring Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports that surfaced on Saturday, however, the Dodgers have indeed decided to entertain offers regarding Puig, and may attempt to package him for another outfielder that can hit for both power and average, while providing an upgrade to an otherwise underachieving team offense.
Rosenthal explained that a prospective deal would depend heavily on Andre Ethier‘s projected return to the squad after recovering from a cracked tibia. Several reports last week indicated a target date of August 2 for the 34-year-old outfielder, while some opinions that surfaced over the weekend suggest that a time frame of mid-August may be more likely.
In addition, the health of center fielder Joc Pederson could factor into any potential trade talks involving Puig. As of Friday evening, Pederson still wasn’t cleared to even swing a bat.
There was optimism initially that Pederson could return from the disabled list immediately following the All-Star break, but that’s looking like far from a sure thing with the 24-year-old still being shut down from swinging and other baseball-related activities. Pederson figures to ultimately require at least several minor league rehab games to prepare for a return to the major league roster. In the meantime, Andrew Toles was brought up Friday to help out in center field providing cover for Trayce Thompson, who has suddenly gone cold at the dish.
Very early in the year, Puig appeared to be more patient at the plate, and in doing so gave the impression of being a smarter hitter. In his plate appearances during the first dozen or so games of the season, he was able to work the count in his favor to ultimately get the pitches he needed to drive the ball. Equipped with a new attitude, it almost appeared if the Dodgers landed a new player.
“I worked really hard at it in Miami and Los Angeles [during the offseason]. I worked on my legs,” Puig said after the season’s opening series against the Padres. “It’s something I didn’t do last year, and a reason why I wasn’t as prepared as I could have been. But this year I have been working on it, and getting good results.”
In spite of his success, the hamstring problems would once again creep in, and the Dodgers were forced to place Puig on the disabled list in the beginning of June. He had missed 73 games in 2015 because of injuries to both hamstrings.
Since returning to the roster on June 21, though, Puig has hit .328/.412/.483 in 68 plate appearances over 18 games. For the entire season, he has a slashline of .258/.316/.389 after appearing in 71 of the Dodgers’ 90 games.
In his rookie season in 2013, Puig hit .319, blasted 19 home runs and registered a .391 on-base percentage in 104 games, while finishing second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting.
Puig’s batting average dipped to .296 in 2014, but he still earned the honor of participating in his first All-Star Game. His averaged declined again last year, dropping to .255. His power numbers and on-base percentage also decreased each of his past two campaigns.
At the moment, the speculative rumors aren’t yet considered to be overly steamy, as it seems if the management team of the Dodgers is keeping all of its doors open and is leaving no stone unturned regarding the trade market.