“Who’s gonna ride your wild horses?
Who’s gonna drown in your blue sea?
Who’s gonna ride your wild horses?
Who’s gonna fall at the foot of thee?”
The World Series is winding down, and soon we will be in Hot Stove season. The Dodgers have some holes that they need to fill, and some choices to be made about which players to keep, and which ones to trade or let go. As far as the outfield goes, LA has many options to work with. Joc Pederson should keep his job in center field. In left field, we can assume that the job would go to Andre Ethier, who hopes to be healthy all year after the lost season he had in 2016. Andrew Toles will compete as well, but would make an excellent backup and first guy off the bench. Scott Van Slyke only played in 52 games last season, batting only .225 before getting injured. It remains to be seen what 2017 has in store for him. Enrique Hernandez, who can play left and center, had a disappointing 2016 also. That brings us to right field.
Josh Reddick joined the Dodgers at the trade deadline, and his start was inauspicious. He did pull it together to have a good September, and had a pretty good postseason. He is a free agent this winter, however, and it remains to be seen if the Dodgers will try to re-sign him, or he will move on to another team. Reddick, at 30 years old, is one of the better right fielders available, with other notables being Jay Bruce, Jose Bautista, and Nori Aoki.
Yasiel Puig has been the subject of much trade speculation over the second half of the season and into the offseason. It was an interesting year for Puig to say the least, with part of his season spent in Triple-A Oklahoma City. Puig seemed to be perfectly admonished, and all people from Andrew Friedman to Dave Roberts to Puig himself saying that he had learned his lesson, that he had grown from it and was ready to move on. Puig is signed through 2018 on a seven year, $42M contract. He had a .263 batting average in 2016, up a tick from 2015’s mark of .255.
One of the biggest trade rumors out there is a Puig-for-Ryan Braun trade. Braun had a .3o5/.365/.538/.903 slash line with 30 home runs, much higher than Puig’s or Reddick’s. The Dodgers could stand to use some more pop in their outfield. Braun grew up in Los Angeles, and has said that he grew up a Dodgers fan. While he has a limited no-trade clause, LA is one of the places in which he is willing to accept being traded. Milwaukee could get Puig, and a starting pitcher, such as Brandon McCarthy, in return. The trade makes sense for the Dodgers, in every way but one.
Friedman has made it a habit of signing not only good players, but good people. Braun’s handling of being caught using a banned substance is well documented, right down to the way he ruined the life of the person who handled the sample, completely throwing him under the bus and not taking any responsibility for his actions until he was forced to. Puig, while not necessarily a model citizen at all times, is more of an immature person and seems to have grown from his eventful season. Time will tell if that remains to be true.
I personally harbor a supreme dislike for Ryan Braun. I have been told by many people that I would get over that as soon as he started producing and helping my team. I’m not so sure. As I have professed my love of Puig many times, I’m sure it would take a lot of getting used to cheering for someone other than him in right field. I believe that the Dodgers biggest issues this offseason are getting a solid number two pitcher behind Kershaw, keeping Kenley and possibly Turner, and that the Dodgers should hold off on the Braun-for-Puig trade. Braun is older and more expensive — at age 32, he is signed through 2020, five yrs/$105M. Stubbornly, I think that Puig deserves one year of more consistent playing time and tutelage under Roberts. In the very least, bring him along and make him a viable trade candidate for the next trade deadline. I know that what fans think is not always best for the team, but I think this is one trade that should remain on the back burner for now.