These are some strange days that we’re living in. Alexa – play the album Strange Days by the Doors. Nothing like a little mood music. For the past 28 days, I’ve been stuck in a house with my wife and twin five-year-old boys. Since my wife is a teacher, she’s spent half of the time teaching remotely. For me, that means I’ve been dadding-so-hard. I’ve become an expert obstacle course builder, an expert in all things monster trucks, and unlocked that special part of my brain that has to do with Pokemon. Secret time – my favorite thing to do while playing hide and seek is to pretend I can’t find them and get five minutes of quiet. UPDATE – I found that if I hide in my bed, under my comforter, they can’t find me. This is a game-changer! In other words, send help. I need sports so badly.

In my fantasy drafts that have already taken place, I’ve ended up rolling the dice on Yasiel Puig a lot. Like, we’re at an alarming rate. If you want to consider this a puff piece on Puig, that’s fair, but this is also a time for me to dive into Puig and reflect. We’ll dive into Puig for fantasy purposes, as well as take a look at why the 29-year old outfielder – one that’s averaged 25 homers over the last three years – is still without a team.

 

Rise and Fall in Los Angeles

After a short stint in the minors in 2012, Yasiel Puig hit the ground running in his inaugural Spring Training. After batting .517 with 3 bombs and 4 stolen bases, many speculated that Puig punched his ticket onto the Opening Day roster. Unfortunately, the Dodgers were paying Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, and Andre Ethier a combined $54.6 million and on March 26th, Puig was sent to AA. Puig continued his hot ways with the Chattanooga Lookouts, putting up a .982 OPS in 40 games.

On June 1st, a Crawford hamstring injury (shocker) opened the door for Puig to make his debut. Puig made an instant impact in his first game, going 2/4 and flashing his strong arm throwing out Chris Denorfia, who was trying to scramble back to first. Over his first month in the majors, Puig batted .436 with 7 taters. In his first two years with the Dodgers, Puig produced 160 and 148 wRC+ seasons.

Despite Puig’s offensive barrage, things weren’t all sunshine and rainbows in California. The list of issues goes from arguments with teammates to benchings for being late and everything in between. Andy McCullough of the LA Times summed up the negatives of Puig’s time with the Dodgers, “Tardiness plagued Puig. His attention wavered. His preparation waned. He ran the bases with enough recklessness that teammates joked Puig thought he was invisible. He hassled staffers. He ignored suggestions from coaches. He rejected entreaties from teammates.”

Yasiel Puig has the ability to be great when he wants to be. Following his two elite seasons in 2013 and 2014, Puig suffered through two injury-plagued seasons. He managed to get back on track in 2017 and 2018 years going 28-15 and 23-15. The only thing he left people wanting for (other than discipline and being coachable) was the .300 average he flashed in his early years.

Finally, in the 2018 offseason, Puig was traded to the Reds in a package with Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, and Kyle Farmer for Homer Bailey, Jeter Downs, and Josiah Gray. Despite his team-related issues, Puig remained a fan-favorite, which continued in Cincinnati and Cleveland, and initially, the trade was met with criticism.

 

A Tale of Two Cities

Here’s what I remember about Yasiel Puig’s time in Cincinnati – helium in his draft price, an ESPN interview to prove he wasn’t a malcontent, a slow start, and multiple brawls with the Pirates. Honestly, did I miss anything? The fantasy community became enamored with Puig in Great American Ballpark, inflating his draft price from an ADP of 130 in January to double-digits by March. Puig managed a mediocre .218 average through May with 10 homers.  Puig was pressing at the plate, trying to make an instant impact with every out-of-control swing.

June brought better times for the Reds’ slugger as he settled in and batted .319 with 6 taters from June 11 through the end of the month. The day before the trade deadline, Puig was traded to the Indians. The announcement of the trade came while the Reds were in a game with the Pirates.  The cherry on top of Puig’s time with the Reds was another brawl with the swash-bucklers.

As little as I remember of Yasiel Puig’s time in Cincinnati, I remember even less about his time in Cleveland. The Cuban slugger batted .297 with just two homers with the Tribe. While the homers weren’t there, Puig managed 15 doubles in that time, which tied him for 15th-most in the league. One thing that improved significantly was Puig’s patience as he went from a 5.7% walk rate with the Reds to a 10.1% walk rate with the Indians. If we dive into this further, his Swing%, O-Swing%, and SwStrike% all dropped in his time with the Indians. At the same time, his FB% dropped from 45.1% to 31.7% and his LD% went from 19.9% to 23.7%. This brings to mind the scene in Major League where Coach Lou Brown tells Willie Mays Hayes that every time he hits the ball in the air, he owes him 20 push-ups.

From a fantasy perspective, Puig’s 2019 season was decent. He didn’t live up to the hype that drove his draft price into the top 100, but a .267 average with 24 homers, 19 steals, and decedent runs/RBIs is a good season. It’s especially impressive considering he was batting .218 on June 1st. His Statcast data (barrel rate, average exit velocity, and sprint speed) for the year was all in line with his career averages. That’s probably why his NFBC ADP was hovering around 140 in February, despite him not having a team.

 

Man Without a Home

So, why is Yasiel Puig without a team? His reckless reputation certainly doesn’t help. I’ve seen a couple of reports that Puig wants too much money. One article that he turned down a one-year offer for $10 million once Free Agency started. But other than that one rumor, nothing else has really been mentioned. This offseason the Marlins signed Corey Dickerson to a two-year deal worth $17.5 million. Over the last three years, Dickerson has averaged a 119 wRC+. During that same time, Puig has averaged a 113 wRC+. Maybe Puig is easier to replace than I once thought.

For fantasy purposes, I love that Puig has stolen at least 15 bags each of the last three years, but do his coaches want him to do that? Yes, he stole 19 bases last year, but he was also caught 7 times. For selfish reasons, we want him to land in a situation where management will let him play his way. Where might that be? Who has money to spend and a roster spot that makes sense?

The Pirates traded Starling Marte in the off-season and currently have the league’s third-lowest payroll at $51 million. They also are projected to have an outfield spot filled by a Jarrod Dyson/Guillermo Heredia platoon. I’d call Puig both an instant upgrade and a fun reason for people to go watch baseball in Pittsburgh.

Yasiel Puig’s most recent team, the Indians, seems like a logical fit as well. Puig put up good numbers for the club and he’d fill a starting outfield spot currently taken up by a Greg Allen/Jordan Luplow platoon. I don’t want to take anything away from Luplow, who’s a lefty-masher, but Greg Allen’s career-high wRC+ is 75. You’re telling me you want Allen on the strong-side of a platoon with his .229/.290/.346 slash line? Of the 320 players to receive at least 250 plate appearances last year, Allen’s 63 wRC+ ranked 304th. Oh, and their payroll is the sixth-lowest in the league.

To me, the best fit, especially from a cultural standpoint would be for Yasiel Puig to take his talents to Long Beach and join the Marlins. If he was considered a fan-favorite in places like Cleveland and Cincinnati, imagine how the city of Miami would embrace the Cuban slugger. According to a 2017 census, 25.7% of Miami-Dade County’s population is comprised of Cuban-born residents. The Marlins aren’t going to compete whether they have Puig or not, so why not bring him in just to get some butts in the seats?

Unfortunately, MLB rosters are frozen until further notice, leaving my Yasiel Puig shares without a home also. Where do you think Puig ends up? Leave a comment and we’ll keep this conversation going. Stay safe and if anyone has more creative “keep the kids busy” ideas, please let me know!

 
  1. thehombre says:
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    Korea.

    Sigh.

    • Richardo

      Richardo says:
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      Ugh. The deepest of sighs.

  2. ny swallows says:
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    Cleveland is probably the best spot because of Francona. Plus as you said, Cleveland needs outfielders. Francona is the best manager to handle Puig. He has the experience of dealing with Manny Ramirez. Which is exactly why Francona probably doesn’t want him…Ha!
    As far as the kids go, you could play “Kidnapper”. You tie them up and leave them in their room until someone pays the ransom. Another fun game would be bank robber. This is similar to kidnapper as they are tied up, but it has the advantage that if they don’t behave you can shoot one of them. There’s nothing like shooting a hostage to get the others to behave. This also works at work if you are a supervisor.

    • Richardo

      Richardo says:
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      Ha! I wonder if the Manny comparison went thru Francona’s head last year…”Not this again.”

      HAHA! Kidnapper sounds like a game that an adult would enjoy……until CPS are called to the house lol

    • Wake Up says:
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      Hahaha

  3. 183414 says:
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    Sometimes in a team setting, the talent is NOT worth the trouble it will invariably cause. Between injuries, anger issues, immaturity, and an I, me ego driven personality in a WE sport, I don’t want him on my team. We’re not talking Reggie Jackson here.

    • Mark says:
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      I agree. I think Puig is too much of a nutcase. He reminds me of guys in the NBA who have talent, but always seem to drag their teams down due to their selfish play and nature.

      • baby seal says:
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        In my last OC, Just Mason (who LOVES injured guys, and always wastes a few roster spots on guys like Puig), took him around 200 overall.

        Is that going to KILL him? No…

        I got Dozier at the same spot. Who would you rather have?

        Cheers

        • Richardo

          Richardo says:
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          Yeah, that’s too rich for my blood at this point.

  4. 183414 says:
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    You seem to throw around the word great meaninglessly.

    • Richardo

      Richardo says:
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      I only used the word twice and once was in the title Great American Ballpark. And just raw talent, yes, I think Puig could be a great player. But that depends on him. If he listens to coaches, if he hones his craft.

      • 183414 says:
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        a “great” player ? No such thing as greatness for a week. Personally, I never saw Puig ever approaching greatness.

        • baby seal says:
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          More on 183’s side here. He *can* be great in fantasy, but only because of the steals.

          The days of him being “great” are pretty much over. Should expect a player who’s ~10-20% above league average — on his best days.

          He was great a long, long time ago. Those first two seasons are a distant memory. Fuhgeddaboudit.

          He’s a 2-3 WAR player at best now, and will be 29 this year.

          There’s a reason he isn’t signed…

          My only Puig share is on PlayStation’s MLB The Show.

          Honestly, was hoping to sign and then trade him at some point. NO ONE WANTS HIM! UNTRADEABLE. So now he’s the Yanks DH / 4th OF. Haha.

  5. KrazyIvan says:
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    “Puig also said that playing in Miami would probably be very complicated because the expectations of the Cuban fans of South Florida might have been a little too demanding,
    “I asked for a little more money from Miami because playing in front of Cubans would be tough because they would expect me to go 5-5 every day. I played six years in Los Angeles, but Mexicans are different from Cubans. They appreciate my talents a lot more,” said Puig to El Nuevo Herald.

    • Richardo

      Richardo says:
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      That’s very interesting and I think it rules out Miami just based on their reticence to pay up for anyone.

      • Duda Want to Build a Snowman? says:
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        Apparently he has an offer on the table from them. Feel like that would be a good landing spot at least in terms of hitting probably 2nd and having a perpetual green light…

        • baby seal says:
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          Pretty DUMB reason not to take a job, no?

  6. Joe SC says:
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    Puig is more about flash than stats. 20 HR, .265 with a low 65 RBI is what you expect from him. He likely will land with Texas or Florida. One good thing about Puig is the Dodgers won the division every year he was a starter, in spite of supposed distraction he causes.

    • 183414 says:
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      Because they had far and away the best team. I never said he sucked. He’s talented. But far more trouble than he’s worth. He’s not going to start listening to coaches and hone his craft after 7 yrs. in the majors. He makes for good t.v. I guess from these fawning announcers.
      You can’t think the Dodgers won that awful division because he was a starter. He got 500 a.b.s 2 of those 6 yrs., and the 2 best yrs. he had were his 1st 2 @ 23/24. Reds definitely have too many of’s, and the Indians seem like his best shot, but Mercado and Reyes seem locked and Domingo was just signed. Naquin, Luplow, Bauers, Allen may not be as talented, but certainly a lot cheaper, and much less a distraction.

      • baby seal says:
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        He makes highlight plays, has a cannon for an arm, so announcers fawn. PASS

  7. You know that old expression “When you sit down at a rounders and you can’t spot the Oreos it’s prolly cuz you ate all the Oreos.”

    • Richardo

      Richardo says:
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      Haha now I just want some oreos

      • baby seal says:
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        Be careful, they are very dangerous, haha

        • Richardo

          Richardo says:
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          haha trust me, I’ve definitely put on my quarantine-15 in part to those addictive little devils.

  8. Harley Earl says:
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    I don’t think anyone wants to risk an investment with Puig for more than a 1-year deal. He’s too selfish, doesn’t respect his teammates, his opponents, his superiors or the game. He’s a cancer in the locker room, on, and off the field. He has no one to blame but himself.

    I think his best landing spot is Miami. They are a perfect match and maybe, just maybe Derek Jeter could pour some of his pixy dust on him and fix his personality flaws. All this seems like wishful thinking. I think we all know who Puig really is and he’s just not likable or conducive to winning.

    Maybe he gets the Colin Kaepernick treatment and nobody signs him because of all his baggage. Maybe he plays his next season in Japan. It would not surprise me. And I sure would not be investing in him at any price.

    • Richardo

      Richardo says:
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      I’m happy to take a late round flier on him now, but in TGFBI (back in February) he went with an ADP of 150.
      Someone dropped him in my 12 team league so I grabbed him and in my Scoresheet league I took him with the 279th pick, so I’m pretty light with my investments.

      • baby seal says:
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        That’s actually something I can get behind.

        See above: Mason taking around 200th overall, in an OC, makes next to zero sense to me. It’s a prayer.

  9. Agree 100%. Thinks he’s the show and always doing some sort of unnecessary BS. I believe most GM’s will avoid the risk of disrupting their team’s chemistry. This guy has squandered his God given tools, and has basically wasted his talents. I think Roberts had a talk that netted some early hope, but the guy just can’t help being a clown. Total showboat

    • Richardo

      Richardo says:
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      When you say “squandered his God given tools”, that’s a pretty accurate/sad reality.

      Even though it sounds like he has a couple one-year deals on the table, maybe there isn’t a team willing to take him on for longer than that.

  10. Mark says:
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    Miami makes sense, but I wouldn’t like it. He will essentially take a spot of another less talented, but younger player. Would much rather see the team find someone younger from their prospects or former prospect system.

    I cannot think of a team that may beneft….maybe Baltimore is the same route as Miami in terms of being somewhat of a benefit as they are that awful. Also San Fran has nobody..so that’s another team that would benefit.

    • Richardo

      Richardo says:
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      I guess that really puts his public perception into focus. Lewis Brinson has been such a disappointment from a prospect-hype perspective, but it seems like you’d rather see them keep trying to develop him as opposed to bringing in Puig.

      Agree with SF, and right, even Baltimore’s young guys are poo other than Austin Hays.

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