Ever since he burst onto the major league scene back in 2013, trade rumors surrounding outfielder Yasiel Puig have become an annual event, especially during the offseason. This winter, however, whispers are surfacing more than usual, mainly because he’ll be eligible to test the free agent market after next season, so long as somebody doesn’t sign him to a long term deal beforehand. Furthermore, with the Dodgers making their interests public regarding a catcher and bullpen help, the front office crew may dangle the 28-year-old Cuban’s name in a prospective trade package or two at the Winter Meetings this week.
There has been some gossip circulating about Puig being unhappy with the time he spent on the bench last season, with most of the reasoning being attributed to his lack of success against left-handed pitching. Throughout his career, Puig’s splits were relatively even, but he began to have trouble against southpaws in 2017 when he hit a paltry .183/.317/.275 against them. Last year, he rebounded to produce a slash line of .209/.268/.360 against left-handers, which is still extremely unproductive for a player who feels he should play every day. What’s more, only two of his 28 long balls last season came against southpaw pitching.
Regardless of his split trends, Puig remains one of the best defensive right fielders in baseball, despite being shunned for a Gold Glove award on an annual basis. There’s no question the Dodgers value defense, but they may still be likely to shop him because of their current surplus of outfielders. Undoubtedly, Puig’s defensive tools will be what garners interest across the league.
As recently as Saturday, rumblings of the Mets having interest in Puig have surfaced, as first reported by Mike Puma of the New York Post. New York has indeed been aggressive so far this offseason, but with the exodus of Jay Bruce and the uncertainty of Yoenis Cespedes, the team has a not-so-appealing outfield setup of Brandon Nimmo, Juan Lagares and Michael Conforto heading into 2019. Nonetheless, there are rumors the Metropolitans may be courting A.J. Pollock, among others, to help in the outfield. Coincidentally, Yasmani Grandal has emerged as one of their targets at catcher.
Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times recently did a story on Puig, saying that he feels that Yasiel likely wouldn’t command much of a return if he’s dealt. Some teams may conceivably be concerned with his lack of discipline on the diamond, as made evident by his propensity to miss the cutoff man on defense coupled with his frequent baserunning miscues. Still, as recently as a few weeks ago, Puig was thought to be one of the one of the featured pieces of a package proposed to the Indians, being that Cleveland made public its need for an upgrade in the outfield.
Regardless of how the winter pans out, the Dodgers won’t be in a hurry to move their right-fielder, especially if their isn’t much offered in return. Nevertheless, with at least a half-dozen outfielders who are big league ready, someone is bound to be shipped out at some point, and this week’s meetings in Las Vegas could be as good of a time as any.