Dodgers mailbag: What is Yasiel Puig’s trade value?

Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig (66) makes the catch for the final out against the Mets.

Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig (66) makes the catch for the final out against the Mets.

(Elsa Garrison / Getty Images)

The Dodgers are 31-27. That translated to an 87-win pace over the course of 162 games. After a tough four-game series in Chicago, the team took care of business and swept the hapless Atlanta Braves last weekend at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers are four games above .500 for the first time since April 25.

Now the team embarks on three consecutive series against division opponents. The Colorado Rockies come to town Monday. Then the Dodgers head to San Francisco and Arizona to face their National League West foes. There is plenty to discuss. As always, you can send me questions on Twitter @McCulloughTimes. Let’s do this.

The trade value of Yasiel Puig has collapsed. In another lifetime – like after the 2014 season – the Dodgers could have dealt Puig and received a hefty sum in return, whether in prospects or in big league-ready talent. His value had fallen since his electric debut in 2013, but there was still a market for him.

The front office of Stan Kasten and Andrew Friedman elected to wait. Puig sold tickets. And to trade him after 2014, the team would likely only receive something like 75 cents on the dollar. So the organization stuck with Puig. He has not rewarded them for their faith, as Bill Plaschke detailed in his column over the weekend. 

Puig landed on the disabled list over the weekend with yet another hamstring injury. He is hitting .237. Among the 69 outfielders qualified for the batting title, his .643 on-base-plus-slugging percentage ranked 65th heading into Sunday’s games. He swung at more pitches outside the strike zone than all but 14 other big leaguers. Pitchers can handcuff him inside with fastballs, which he cannot extend his hands to handle, while still inducing him to swing at soft stuff away. It’s a timeless formula, but Puig has yet to develop an answer.

So, no, Puig has not done much in 2016 to help his value. He has received plenty of credit for his attitude this season, including such achievements as showing up on time, being accountable with the press and not driving his teammates bonkers. This is commendable, for sure, but it does not overshadow his plummeting production.

It’s unfortunate how this worked out: At a time when the Dodgers finally might be ready to move Puig, his value has never been lower. The team could get something back for him – lower-level prospects maybe, a starter approaching free agency, a decent reliever or two – but nothing like the mega-package once available.

This question resulted from Carl Crawford’s pitiful at-bat against Jake Arrieta last week. When Crawford struck out on a wild pitch, he trotted back to the dugout, rather than run to first base. The optics looked pretty terrible, as Cubs catcher Miguel Montero ran after Crawford and tagged him out a few steps from the dugout.

So how, some fans asked, was that different than when Yasiel Puig got benched for not running on a deep drive to right field this month?

The difference lies in the context. When he yanked Puig from the game, Dave Roberts insisted that the punishment was unrelated to Puig’s previous recent indiscretions. But let’s be realistic about this. Two days prior to the incident, Puig made a foolish play on the bases, forgetting to run to third base on a bunt attempt, that cost his team a chance to beat San Diego in nine innings, rather than 17. On the afternoon before the incident, Roberts had to go into the clubhouse to bring Puig back onto the field to join his teammates during batting practice.

Roberts is only human. Of course those previous incidents played into his thought process when he removed Puig from the game.

When Crawford didn’t run to first base, Roberts could have punished him. But his best choice to replace him in the field was, in fact, Puig, who told the training staff before the game that he was unavailable to play. Roberts was already operating with a short bench because of his eight-man bullpen.

This last part is just my opinion: Puig’s offense was worse because it actually hurt his team’s chance to win a game. Those extra 90 feet could prove crucial in trying to score a run. Crawford struck out with two outs and, in his view, did not notice the ball bouncing away. His offense looked bad. But it didn’t make much difference in the night’s outcome.

Happy now?

In the two-month vacuum, Kenta Maeda has been a tremendous bargain. May treated him poorly, but he still holds a 5-3 record and a 2.84 earned-run average. That is pretty solid for a $3-million guarantee (which is really $3.15 million already, because he received $150,000 for making the opening-day roster). His slider is definitely a quality major league pitch and his mix can help him navigate through lineups.

Now, obviously, there are some concerns. He has shied away from his fastballs at various times, which some observers attribute to nerves regarding the unexpected power of big league pitchers. He appears closer to a No. 4 starter than a No. 2 starter. The concerns about the health of his elbow will never go away. But the Dodgers structured the contract so the downside risk is minimal. And if Maeda hits his incentives, he’ll only be receiving market value for his performance.

In short: The deal is working out just fine.

I mean, Zack Greinke signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks, which was pretty weird.

Here is one weird thing that is happening this year. His ERA is 4.29, and Scott Kazmir’s is 4.46. This is only one statistic, and Greinke crushes Kazmir in basically every other stat (FIP, innings, strikeout-to-walk ratio, you name it), but I did find that interesting, since ERA does record what actually happened on the diamond.

Not as much as I used to, but I think that’s just a product of growing older. I don’t watch a lot of sports when I’m away from the ballpark. I spend a lot of time reading, studying poker or listening to music.

In general, it’s “easier” to cover a winning team. The players, coaches and manager tend to be in a better mood, which often allows for longer, more fruitful conversations that turn into stories. But losing teams can generate far more interesting stories. Either one is fine, from my perspective. The last type of team you want to cover is one that hovers around .500.

I thought he was solid in “Dan In Real Life.” That’s a tidy little film.


If he turns heel, I think he has a chance. As a babyface, he will probably suffer from the overly sympathetic crowds at NXT events. Those people will support any goofy gimmick, even when it isn’t deserved, which often leaves a wrestler unprepared for the apathy that might greet him upon graduating to the main roster.

You can find the whole match here. I’ve watched it several times now, trying to decide how I feel about it, and I’ve found I’m in the minority with my main man, Leon White. I did not loathe the match, but I found it to be somewhat ridiculous.

The dueling moonsault sequence at the beginning was just too much for me. It makes clear that this is not a physical confrontation. It’s a physical collaboration. At times this looked too little like wrestling and too much like a Mortal Kombat action sequence. If they don’t do that spot, I probably like the match a lot more. Instead I just noticed all the things I dislike.

For example: When Ricochet put Ospreay in a series of complicated, painful submission holds midway through, why does Ricochet break the holds voluntarily? Isn’t the point to submit your opponent? Zack Sabre Jr., does this a lot, and it always bugs me.

Then: the lack of selling. At one point near the endgame, Ricochet hits a Northern Lights suplex and dead-lifts Ospreay into another suplex. Ospreay counters with a stunner, then hits the ropes to run into a bicycle kick from Ricochet. Ospreay takes the kick and hits some sort of moonsault suplex after Ricochet bounces off the ropes toward him. So . . . which of these moves actually hurt? The first suplex didn’t hurt enough to prevent the stunner, which didn’t hurt enough to prevent a kick to the face, which didn’t hurt enough to prevent the moonsault suplex. It looked more like choreography than competition.

I’m all for displaying athleticism in the ring and establishing new paradigms, but I prefer that happen within the guise of believability. When you watch that match, you don’t believe those two guys are attempting to win a match. They are trying to put on an acrobatic show. I think you can do both – like Zayn-Nakamura in Dallas earlier this year, or Nakamura-Styles at Wrestle Kingdom 10. It’s certainly not a bad match. It’s a good match. It’s just not for me.

Twitter: @McCulloughTimes