The Los Angeles Dodgers could not trade Yasiel Puig before the Aug. 1 non-waiver deadline. This doesn’t mean there wasn’t drama following the deadline itself (more on that here).
#Dodgers activate Josh Reddick and Jesse Chavez and send Yasiel Puig, Ross Stripling and Josh Fields to minors.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) August 2, 2016
That raises a few questions.
Has Puig played his final game with the Dodgers? If so, what’s next for the embattled outfielder?
That’s what we’re going to attempt to answer today. If Puig leaves Chavez Ravine, what teams have the most to gain by taking a risk on him?
1. Los Angeles Angels
This would be a nice move from a few perspectives.
While it would give Puig a new group of teammates and a new organization, the overall change of environment would be minimal. Puig would get to stay in Southern California, which is all he’s known during his time in the majors and in the United States.
Secondly, the Angels have a gaping hole in left field. Puig could certainly fill that. Another option would be to put Puig in right field and move Kole Calhoun to left. Either option would give the Halos an upgrade on their left field production, which has been virtually non-existent in 2016.
— Sportsnaut (@Sportsnaut) August 2, 2016
Additionally, we never know how much motivation Puig will draw from a divorce with the Dodgers. But if he draws any, one would have to think he’d relish the chance to make them look bad while playing for their cross-town rivals.
2. San Diego Padres
San Diego is certainly further down the coast from Los Angeles than is Anaheim. Still, joining the Padres would allow Puig to stay in Southern California.
Additionally, the motivational factor that existed with the Halos would only be heightened. The Angels would give a chance to hurt the Dodgers in their market. The Padres, on the other hand, would give Puig a chance to hurt Los Angeles in the standings.
On the field, Puig makes sense as well. With Matt Kemp and Melvin Upton Jr. gone, the San Diego outfield appears to be fairly open in 2017.
Prospects Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe figure to fill two spots, but a vacancy still exists. Puig could play whichever corner spot is not given to Renfroe while Margot mans center.
This would give Puig peace of mind that he hasn’t had with the Dodgers recently. Even if he goes through a slump, his spot in the lineup would be safe.
Lastly, Puig has a decent career history at Petco Park. While his .274 batting average in San Diego is lower than his career .288 mark, his .367 on-base percentage and .484 slugging pecentage at Petco are both better than his career .362/.468 totals.
3. Chicago White Sox
We venture out of Southern California and look at a team that was reportedly interested in Puig in the hours leading up to the deadline.
The White Sox want Yasiel Puig if they make a deal with the Dodgers.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) August 1, 2016
With Adam Eaton, Melky Cabrera and Avisail Garcia, Chicago’s outfield is decent. Still, the White Sox would have a few options if they added Puig.
Playing in the American League, one of those outfielders could be used as a DH.
Two, either Eaton, Cabrera or Garcia could be traded. Chicago could certainly use the kind of depth that could be acquired in a trade.
It’s also important to note that the White Sox have a good history with Cuban players. Alexei Ramirez was a solid player on the South Side for years. Jose Abreu is in his third year with the team. Of course, that doesn’t mean that similar success would be enjoyed with Puig, but it’s certainly a nice plus in Chicago’s favor.
Who wouldn’t want to see that?
4. Cleveland Indians
While the other teams on this list would be looking at Puig more for 2017, the Indians should target him for the remainder of this season.
Cleveland is a first-place team, but has a lot to be desired on offense.
The hope would be that Puig takes the American League by storm like he did the National League in 2013. Ideally, he’d come in rejuvenated and ready to prove himself in the midst of a pennant race.
But if that didn’t happen, he wouldn’t really hurt. The Indians’ offense is already slumping. Their outfield is woeful. When Cleveland was at its best, it was winning with good pitching. Puig coming in and playing below par wouldn’t cripple the team.
Obviously, he’d need to clear waivers for this move to happen. Still, given how little interest there seemed to be in Puig leading into the non-waiver deadline, it’s a pretty safe bet that he’d clear. The Indians offense needs a jolt. Puig may not provide it, but he’d provide a low-risk option that realistically could be the team’s spark plug.
5. Seattle Mariners
While the White Sox outfield can probably be improved upon, the outfield situation in Seattle has a lot of room for improvement.
At season’s end, Adam Lind will be a free agent, opening the door for Nelson Cruz to be a full time designated hitter. When that happens, the Mariners will need a permanent right fielder.
That’s a role for Puig.
Puig would fit in well in Seattle’s offense as well. We can say with a great deal of certainty that Cruz and Robinson Cano would both bat in the middle of the order. But players like Leonys Martin and Kyle Seager are both fairly flexible in where they can hit.
If Puig is hitting for power, he’d fit in fine in the 3-5 spots with Cruz and Cano. He can also be more of a line-drive guy.
In that case, he’d fit in best either leading off or hitting second. Of course, the 6-9 window is also in play in a slump. Seattle’s offense is good and diverse enough to accommodate whatever version of Puig shows up in the Pacific Northwest.
Additionally, like the White Sox, Seattle has a strong history with Cuban players. Three players presently on Seattle’s 40-man roster hail from Cuba. That could help Puig feel at home, while also providing the change of environment that he desperately needs.