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Marlins are talking to Yasiel Puig

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A few years ago the notion of Yasiel Puig‘s free agency seemed kinda fun and exciting. You could picture people arguing about whether giving him big bucks was a good idea. Whether the great production was worth the circus.

These days he’s nowhere near a first-tier free agent, his 2019 season was — with the exception of one early-season bit of chaos — kind of quiet, and his lack of production has rendered this offseason almost completely devoid of Puig chatter.

Jon Heyman breaks that silence today by reporting that the Miami Marlins met with Puig this week. Heyman says the club has also talked to Avisaíl García, Corey Dickerson and Kole Calhoun. Again, not the kind of company you would’ve figured Puig would be keeping in his eventual free agent market, but a lot has happened over the years.

As for that production, Puig hit a mere .252/.302/.475 (92 OPS+) for the Reds before being traded to the Indians. Once in Cleveland his performance improved — he hit .297/.377/.423 (109 OPS+) — but it was definitely a down year overall. Certainly a step down from his performance for the Dodgers in 2017-18, when he was increasingly platooned but productive when he did play, and many steps down from the kinds of things he did when he first burst on the big league scene as a superstar in 2012-13.

Then, of course, there was the legacy he authored in Los Angeles. He was never as bad as his worst critics tended to portray him. Indeed, given that he was portrayed as literally putting fans’ lives at risk, such a thing would be impossible. A more sober, and better-reported deep dive into his time in Los Angeles revealed that Puig was generally liked by most of his teammates and club officials, even if he could be exasperating. Which meant that most of his problems weren’t personal, they were professional. Puig was a frustrating teammate who failed to take full advantage of his potential and failed to take coaching advice. The knock on him being a team cancer was overstated, but his stubbornness and belief in his physical skills and resistance to playing smarter rather than simply playing harder turned him into an often unreliable underachiever, and that can be even worse when a guy is being counted on.

So here we are. The Marlins, one of the least desirable free agent destinations in the game, is his first primary suitor of the offseason. At 29, Puig is certainly capable of bouncing back and, perhaps, turning into a free agent bargain for either Miami or someone else. But one also suspects that, barring a big change in his approach, this could be the last time he’s spoken of as a player in which anyone is all that interested.

Reds sign Nicholas Castellanos to a four-year deal

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The Cincinnati Reds have signed outfielder Nicholas Castellanos to a multi-year deal. That’s the report from C. Trent Rosecrans and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Jon Morosi of MLB.com was the first to report the Reds as frontrunners. The deal is pending a physical. UPDATE: The deal is four years. Financial terms have yet to be reported.

With Castellanos in the fold the Reds are going to have a lot of outfielders when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton already on the roster. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps taking over short from Freddy Galvis, who could be dealt. Alternatively, the Reds could trade from their newfound outfield surplus.

Castellanos, however, will have left field to himself. While he’s shaky at best with the glove, he had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power.

Now that he’ll be playing in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.