Yasiel Puig’s future in Los Angeles has long been a topic of discussion surrounding the Dodgers. He has been a polarizing figure since he broke into the league back in 2013, playing with flair and antics which the old-schooled savants of the game did not appreciate.
As a rookie, he hit .319/.391/.534 with 19 home runs in 104 and helped propel a struggling Dodgers team into the playoffs. And he followed up his stellar debut campaign with an All-Star season in 2014. And because of his play, his behavior and antics were scrutinized but relatively overlooked.
Then the struggles came in 2015 and 2016 where he hit a combined .260/.323/.425 with 22 home runs across 182 games. He struggled with both performance and health, which would burn a brighter spotlight on his negatives. It got to the point that he was almost traded in 2016, then later demoted to triple-A.
But Puig has had a bit of a resurgence over the last two seasons, hitting .264/.337/.490 with 51 homers in 276 games (30-homer pace). In 2018, he finished the season strong after coming off his first trip to the DL, slugging .287/.348/.562 with 23 home runs in 101 games. And he’s done so while staying out of the headlines for the most part.
Puig’s end-of-his-season performance is more telling of his uber-talent that has had many around the league tantalized by his ability. The thing holding him back, however, is consistency.
That is the biggest flaw in Puig’s game. One week he can carry the Dodgers himself but the next he will be worthy of demoting to the bench. It’s this type of consistency that has made the 28-year-old an enigma. An enigma that hasn’t been able to hit left-handed pitching for two years, making him the rare reverse-splits hitter.
It’s because of this that Yasiel Puig has become something in between of a platoon hitter and full-time player the last two seasons, leaning towards platoon. And it may finally be getting to him, with rumbles of him being ‘disgruntled’ about his situation.
No one likes going from regular starter to platoon players, especially with the talent Puig possesses. And it’s even more understandable when he is one year away from free agency.
These circumstances are why that the Dodgers may be looking to trade the Cuban this offseason. He has speculated to have been discussed in trade talks with the Cleveland Indians, perhaps in a move for Corey Kluber.
If the Dodgers are going to move someone, Puig may be their best option because he is the Dodgers’ best combination of expendability and value. They can afford to move Puig because of the outfield depth they have at their disposal.
Joc Pederson, Cody Bellinger, Alex Verdugo, Matt Kemp, and Andrew Toles are the full-time outfielders on the roster while Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez can both play in the outfield. And, moving Puig would allow the Dodgers to get what they can before they decide not to re-sign a 28-year-old platoon hitter to a long-term deal.
And Puig is a 20-homer-20-stolen base hitter in his prime who provides elite defense in right field. But he has the potential to get better, and a change of scenery may be just what the Cuban needs to fulfill his talent.
Not to mention, moving Puig would open up a full-time spot in right field for some like, say, Bryce Harper. A long-term commitment to the superstar would be better than potentially only one year of Yasiel Puig.
Puig has been a fan-favorite ever since he made it to The Show but has still left Dodger fans frustrated because they know what he is capable of.
Nonetheless, moving him may be anger the fanbase, but it’s a move the Dodgers should seriously consider making. It’s always been in the back of our minds that Puig may eventually stop wearing Dodger blue, but that can become a reality sooner, rather than later.