Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig burst onto the scene in 2013 as one of the brightest young superstars in the game. In the following three seasons, however, injuries, behavior and attitude problems and poor, frustrating fundamentals causes his stock in Los Angeles to sink. This past August he was demoted to Triple-A in the course of the Dodgers’ playoff push and, it seemed, his time in Los Angeles was effectively over.
He raked in the minors, however, and was called back up in time for the playoffs. While he was not a real factor for the Dodgers in October, his team’s front office says that he is once again part of the Dodgers’ plans going forward:
“He did everything we asked him to do in the last two months, so we’re in a much better place,” general manager Farhan Zaidi said Wednesday at the GM meetings . . . “[he has] re-established himself as an important part of our ballclub.”
Whether that means Puig stays in Los Angeles, of course, is an open question.
On the one hand, if the Dodgers still wish to move Puig, as it was reported they most certainly wanted to late in the season, Zaidi has every incentive to talk him up as a reformed player ready to reestablish himself as a superstar. Smart GMs know not to badmouth the players they wish to move, especially when people may already be suspicious about that players’ character and quality.
On the other hand, when your other outfield options apart from established center fielder Joc Pederson are Andre Ethier, Andrew Toles, Howie Kendrick, Scott Van Slyke, Kiké Hernandez and Trayce Thompson, it’s not like you have a ton of quality out there. Especially for a playoff contender. Either is old and injury prone. Kendrick is unhappy in the outfield and has made it clear that he wants to be traded. The other options are platoon or utility options at best. Simply put, beyond Pederson, Puig is the best outfielder the Dodgers have right now.
If Puig is to be moved, Dodgers fans had best hope it’s in a package for a solid, middle-of-the-order bat. If he is not to be moved, they had best hope that Zaidi is correct and that he truly is back 2013 mode or at least something close to it.