Yasiel Puig’s ‘complicated legacy’ in Los Angeles

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Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times has written the story I think everyone knew was going to come out sooner or later: the “now that Yasiel Puig is gone, what did the Dodgers really think of him?” story. And you know what? It’s a good, even-handed story and not the hit job that other, say, more senior columnist types at the Times might have done if they were given the assignment. Thank goodness.

Unlike a lot of past coverage which has sought to cast Puig as some malevolent force in the Dodgers clubhouse, the picture that comes away from this story is that Puig was more of a frustration than a team cancer. Indeed, Dodgers people — players, coaches and managers — generally liked Puig and still like him. They knew and accepted that he is just wired differently than most players, and understood, more or less, why he was wired differently. But they were quite often frustrated by him. Less frustrated on a personal basis than frustrated by his failure to take full advantage of his potential. His failure to take coaching advice, particularly when it comes to defense. His stubbornness and belief in his physical skills and resistance to playing smarter rather than simply playing harder which, on some level, doesn’t always cut it.

Those are legitimate points of frustration with a ballplayer and a teammate. They all had been reported in the past, but not as comprehensively as they are reported here. It’s also worth noting that, in the past, the stuff that the Plaschkes of the world emphasized — the anonymously-sourced and often completely made up stuff about how Puig was a bad guy — took precedence over the simple “he’s an OK guy who is supremely talented but does not take full advantage of his talent” story McCullough presents here.

The Dodgers may or may not be better off without Puig and, now that he is gone, Puig may or may not show that he has a higher gear of production that that which he has shown in recent years. But based on this story I think it’s safe to say that, even if Puig did not fulfill the promise he showed when he first burst on the scene in Los Angeles, his failure in that regard is not radically different than that of other promising players who similarly fell short of high expectations. He didn’t work as hard as he could’ve and that sort of thing. Given how much effort has been expended in casting him as an extreme and negative outlier in that and other regards, this story stands as a pretty decent corrective, I think.

 

 

Report: Brandon Nimmo staying with Mets on 8-year, $162M deal

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NEW YORK – Center fielder Brandon Nimmo is staying with the free-spending New York Mets, agreeing to an eight-year, $162 million contract, according to a person familiar with the deal.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the agreement is subject to a successful physical and no announcement had been made.

A quality leadoff hitter with an excellent eye and a .385 career on-base percentage, Nimmo became a free agent last month for the first time. He was a key performer as the Mets returned to the playoffs this year for the first time since 2016.

The left-handed hitter batted .274 with 16 homers and a team-high 102 runs, a career high. He also set career bests with 64 RBIs and 151 games played. His seven triples tied for most in the National League.

Bringing back Nimmo means New York is poised to return its entire everyday lineup intact from a team that tied for fifth in the majors in runs and won 101 regular-season games – second-most in franchise history.

But the Mets remain busy replenishing a pitching staff gutted by free agency, including Jacob deGrom‘s departure for Texas and Taijuan Walker‘s deal with Philadelphia that was pending a physical.

On the final day of baseball’s winter meetings Wednesday, the Mets completed an $86.7 million, two-year contract with former Houston ace Justin Verlander that includes a conditional $35 million player option for 2025. New York also retained All-Star closer Edwin Diaz last month with a $102 million, five-year contract, and the team has a $26 million, two-year agreement in place with veteran starter Jose Quintana, pending a physical.

Those moves add to a payroll that was the largest in the majors last season. Under owner Steve Cohen, who bought the Mets in November 2020, New York became baseball’s biggest spender this year for the first time since 1989. The Mets’ payroll was $273.9 million as of Aug. 31, with final figures that include bonuses yet to be compiled.

Nimmo was selected by New York with the No. 13 pick in the 2011 amateur draft. He declined a $19.65 million qualifying offer from the Mets last month.

The 29-year-old Wyoming native made his big league debut in 2016. He is a .269 career hitter with 63 homers, 213 RBIs and 23 triples in 608 games. He has an .827 career OPS and has improved his play in center, becoming a solid defender.

Nimmo’s new deal with the Mets was first reported by the New York Post.