Puig hit .252/.302/.475 (92 OPS+) for the Reds last year before being traded to the Indians at the deadline. Once in Cleveland his performance improved, as he hit .297/.377/.423 (109 OPS+). Definitely a down year overall, and a far cry from the sort of superstar performance he showcased when he first broke into the league, but he’s just 29 and still profiles as an above average big league outfielder, on defense and at the plate.
Puig was most recently rumored to be the target of the Baltimore Orioles, but the Braves, who are favored by many to repeat as NL East champs, certainly give him a better opportunity to showcase his talents. The Marlins, White Sox, Rockies, and Marlins were other rumored suitors over the long offseason.
The Braves, who have traditionally not been the sort of organization to embrace free spirits and colorful personalities like Puig’s in recent years, certainly have a need for him. Longtime right fielder Nick Markakis recently opted out due to COVID-19 concerns and first baseman Freddie Freeman, himself recovering from COVID-19, may not be ready to begin the season on the active roster. A shot to replace the former in the outfield and make up at least some of the offense that will be lost by the absence of the latter, is worth taking for Atlanta. Besides, if Ronald Acuña Jr.’s bat flips and showmanship have not caused Braves fans to retire to their fainting couches yet, a year of Puig shouldn’t do it either.
But even if Atlanta fans are wary of a guy the have taken a great joy in booing in the past, well, tough stuff. The Braves are signing Yasiel Puig.