Baseball, like all sports, can be a cruel business. One moment you’re on top of the world, only to see the shine fade; only to hear chatter of your sinking valuea��both on and off the field. Right now, that’s happening with an outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers. You know the one. And the chatter, well, it’s not just about off-the-field issues anymore.
On June 2, 2013, the Los Angeles Dodgersa��with their payroll stretching $217 milliona��were 23-32, 8.5 games back of first, and last place in the NL West. For the most part, their starting rotation was nails. For numerous reasons, namely underperforming yet handsomely paid individuals and time-consuming injuries, the offense was not.
On June 3, 2013, an immensely talented Cuban outfielder by the name of Yasiel Puig made his Major League debuta��jumping from AA Chattanooga to do so. On June 30, 2013, the Dodgers were still in last place with a record of 38-43, but that deficit had dropped to just four games. Puig more than did his part. After 107 plate appearances, he’d finish with a cool .436/.467/.713 slash line. That’s a 1.180 OPS, friends.
Of course, Puig’s regular season numbers wouldn’t remain that higha��because, well, obviouslya��but despite really cooling down in September and into October, his impact was felt. Not just across the NL West, but all of baseball. The Dodgers claimed the division lead on July 22 and never looked back, eventually finishing 11 games ahead.
And Puig, well, he was as big a reason for that as anyone. He slashed .319/.391/.534. He finished runner-up in the Rookie of the Year voting. Puig even finished 15th in MVP voting, and would hardly slow down in 2014.
With more games under his belt than the previous season, with pitchers all across baseball getting used to him, it didn’t stop Puig from putting up another stellar season. His .296/.382/.480 slash line, coupled with 37 doubles and 16 home runs, was part of an All-Star campaign and another Top 20 MVP vote.
Now it is June 27, 2016, and Yasiel Puig is in the middle of his second consecutive rough season.
First, the positives: he’s only 25 years old, he’s under contract through 2018 (at less than $10 million per season), and he’s under team control through 2020. The negatives: injuries limited Puig to 79 games last season; he’s dealt with a couple nagging ones this year as well, and over the past two seasons he’s hitting just .255/.319/.406.
The Dodgers themselves, despite countless injuries to their rotation, are still only 2.5 games back of the San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers themselves, despite having such a promising 25-year-old talent under team control through 2020, are rumored to be willing to move him.
All of the positives listed above. He cannot promise a big return on his own right now, but he’s a solid bounce-back chip for any team willing to bring him on board. Additionally, with the White Sox listening on offers for Chris Sale, it’s possible LA could package Puig with Julio UrA�asa��as they’re reportedly willing to part with the super prospect in a deal for Sale.
That said, if LA would attempt to move Puig without packaging him with a top, top prospect, it’s understandable that they’d ask for an above average return. This isn’t exactly a Shelby Miller, Arizona Diamondbacks type of situation. Puig’s value hasn’t diminished that much quite so quickly.
On the other hand, he’s only 25 years old. We know how talented he is and can be. Plus the Dodgers, are, well the Dodgers. They’re rich; they’re almost always competitive. Moving someone like Puig would only make sense in a Sale-esque type deal, and let’s face it: that’s a longshot. Sale is going to be a nearly impossible get for anybody.
The Dodgers are front-runners in the NL wild card race, and despite their severely broken down rotation, remain 12 games over .500. Getting a starting pitcher is almost certainly a must, but trading Yasiel Puig? I feel like that’s something that could wait.
Does that mean he is untouchable? Of course not. Puig is just another example for the majority of players out there that this is a business. There’s no rule stating the Dodgers shouldn’t listen to potential offers. Additionally, his departure could be the result of various things, not just his below average production at the plate.
Though issues with his personalitya��ones that plagued Puig in his first couple of seasonsa��seem to be a non-factor this year, we don’t know what goes on with any team behind closed doors. Also, given that we’re approaching the trade deadline, the increasing volume of chatter that surrounds virtually everyone who is underperforming doesn’t help anybody.
Back when he made his debut in 2013, Yasiel Puig was putting up superstar-like numbers. He continued that trend the following season, but last yeara��and even more so this onea��have been unkind to him. Now, he’s available. Eventually for most, that’s just the way it goes.