UPDATE: TMZ has retracted their story. It has been confirmed that the person in the video is not Puig.
1:06 p.m. ET: In a statement to HardballTalk, Yasiel Puig‘s lawyer, Jay Reisinger, has strongly denied that the person in the TMZ video is his client.
10:06 a.m. ET: CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Friday that the Yasiel Puig bar fight might not have been as serious as initially reported. According to Heyman’s sources, Puig was asked to leave the bar after he got a little too loud trying to be peacemaker between his sister and her boyfriend. He was said to get hit in the eye while being escorted out of the bar and retaliated. Police investigated the incident and watched the video, but no arrests were made.
Thanks to TMZ, we now have what appears to be video evidence of the “fight.” I put “fight” in quotations because what we are seeing here is not much of a fight. While it’s possible the person identified as Puig was hit by someone prior to this footage, we see him landing the first blow here. Still, it’s hardly worthy of the “INSANE BAR BRAWL” headlines we saw after news of the incident first surfaced.
The initial report from TMZ back in November said that Puig got into a physical altercation with his sister prior to the fight, but police said that no shoving was alleged and that they believe the only physical altercation took place between Puig and the bouncer. MLB is currently investigating Puig under the new domestic violence policy, but it doesn’t appear that there’s much here to warrant punishment.
We noted back in October that 2004 No. 1 overall pick Matt Bush was released from prison after serving nearly three years in jail for severely injuring a 72-year-old man while driving drunk. Speculating on his baseball future was secondary at the time, but the Rangers announced yesterday that they signed the 29-year-old to a minor league contract.
Bush hasn’t played since 2011, but Thomas Harding of MLB.com reports that he was clocked at 95 mph during recent bullpen sessions. The Rangers intend to have a zero-tolerance policy with him in regard to alcohol and driving. His father, Danny, must also live with him during spring training and the season. Bush appears determined to turn his life around and make the most out of his second chance.
“My dad has always cared for me, no matter what. All the issues that I’d had, all the struggles, the pain that I’ve put him and my mom and my family through, as well. I went to his retirement party just the other day, and the people at his work, they say, ‘We seem to know all about you.’ My dad tells them the good and the bad. I appreciate and see that he cares for me, and I respect him for that.”
“My future is as bright as I make it,” Bush said. “I feel renewed after all the time I served and had time to think things through — the agony of destroying my life and the lives of others.”
Bush is aiming to make the Rangers’ Double-A affiliate in Frisco, Texas.
It was reported earlier this week that the Dodgers have been in talks with the Rays about a potential trade for right-hander Jake Odorizzi. According to FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi, it seems they might have some competition.
It’s unclear if the talks are actually about Odorizzi, as the Rays have some other appealing targets in Drew Smyly, Matt Moore, and Erasmo Ramirez. Tampa Bay just signed Chris Archer to a six-year, $25.5 million extension last year, so it’s highly unlikely he’s on the table as a possibility. Alex Cobb is another potential target, but he’ll likely be sidelined through around midseason next year while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.
John Lackey recently left for the division rival Cubs as a free agent and Lance Lynn is due to miss the entire 2016 season after Tommy John surgery, so the Cardinals’ rotation currently consists of Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez, and Jaime Garcia. As of now, the fifth spot looks to be some combination of Tyler Lyons, Tim Cooney, and Marco Gonzales. Given the injury risks in this bunch, the expectation has been that the Cardinals will acquire another arm this offseason.
As the Mets look for a potential platoon option with Juan Lagares in center field, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports that the the club will meet with free agent outfielder Denard Span in January.
Span, who turns 32 in February, was limited to just 61 games last season due to injury and underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip. He plans to hold workouts with individual teams after the new year in order to prove his health and conditioning.
Lagares owns a lowly .627 OPS against right-handed pitching in his career, so the lefty-swinging Span would be a good fit. Even with all the injuries last year, Span hit .301 with a .365 on-base percentage. One bonus is that he was not given a qualifying offer by the Nationals, so he is not attached to draft pick compensation. This will create some competition assuming Span is healthy.
The Mets have also been connected to free agent outfielders Gerardo Parra and Will Venable, among others, but the club is not expected to make a run at retaining Yoenis Cespedes.
The possibility was reported earlier this week and now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the Nationals have an apparent agreement in place to acquire second baseman Brandon Phillips from the Reds. However, Phillips has full no-trade rights as a 10-and-5 player (10 years in the majors and five with the same team) and needs to sign off on any deal. Those talks are in progress, though Phillips’ tweet earlier tonight would indicate that he’s D.C. bound…
Phillips, 34, bounced back from an awful 2014 by batting .294/.328/.395 with 12 home runs and 70 RBI this past season. He also stole 23 bases, his most since 2009. Still, he only finished with a 97 OPS+ and has a 95 OPS+ over the past four seasons. On the bright side, he still plays solid defense at second base.
Phillips, who lives year-round in Cincinnati, is owed $13 million in 2016 and $14 million in 2017. Rosenthal hears that he’ll require a “financial adjustment” to sign off on the deal, but moving to a contender while being reunited with Dusty Baker are two factors in Washington’s favor.
Assuming the deal gets done, the Nationals will likely use Danny Espinosa at shortstop until top prospect Trea Turner is deemed ready for the majors. The club recently dealt Yunel Escobar to the Angels and plan to move Anthony Rendon back to his natural position at third base.
The Reds acquired Jose Peraza from the Dodgers on Tuesday as part of the three-team Todd Frazier trade and he could get the first shot at second base if Phillips gets dealt. Cincinnati also has Zack Cozart and Eugenio Suarez in their middle infield.
Phillips has spent 10 seasons with the Reds while making three All-Star appearances and winning four Gold Glove Awards.