Would Dodgers trade Yasiel Puig? Unlikely, but he can’t rule it out
Yasiel Puig has played in only 53 of the Dodgers’ 100 games. After spending five weeks on the disabled list because of a strained hamstring, he is batting .253 with six home runs and 22 runs batted in.
“The season hasn’t turned out the way I wanted,” Puig said in Spanish.
Now, with Friday’s nonwaiver trade deadline fast approaching, Puig is bracing himself for the possibility of another unexpected turn — the prospect of a trade.
Like Matt Kemp before his breakout season in 2011, Puig is a divisive figure to observers close and far, who debate whether he will ever realize his seemingly limitless potential. As was the case with Kemp, this has resulted in discussion around baseball about whether the Dodgers should and would trade Puig.
If Puig had a say, he would go nowhere.
“Players never want to be traded from their first team,” he said. “But that’s not our decision.”
Puig raised the example of Dee Gordon, the All-Star second baseman who was traded to the Miami Marlins over the winter.
“Dee Gordon didn’t want to be traded from here and they traded him,” he said.
Puig said that if he is traded, he would like to respond the way Gordon did. Gordon, who was sidelined by a thumb injury earlier this month, is second in the National League with a .338 batting average.
“I’ll play anywhere,” Puig said. “I came to the United States [from Cuba] to play baseball. Baseball is the same anywhere. If they want to trade me, that’s their decision. I can’t do anything about that.”
ESPN Deportes and CBS Sports reported over the weekend that Puig asked for, and received, assurances he wouldn’t be traded. Puig said that never happened.
But Dodgers Chairman Mark Walter recently voiced his support of the former All-Star outfielder, saying, “I wouldn’t give up on him now.”
Walter added that he thought Puig, 24, would develop into “a great player.”
Puig nodded when asked about Walter’s comments.
“I appreciate that,” he said. “I’ll continue working hard so the owner of the team can continue to believe in me.”
At this point, a deal involving Puig appears unlikely. Manager Don Mattingly said he hasn’t heard Puig’s name mentioned in any internal trade discussions.
While his production has been underwhelming, Puig remains one of the sport’s most marketable players. He is also under an extremely team-friendly contract.
Puig is earning $4.5 million this season, which is considerably less than a comparable outfielder would cost the Dodgers on the open market. Andre Ethier is earning $18 million.
In addition to being relatively inexpensive, Puig isn’t eligible to become a free agent until after the 2019 season.
The Dodgers remain in search of starting pitching since their rotation has been heavily compromised by the season-ending surgeries to Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy. The team’s current No. 4 starter, Mike Bolsinger, has been inconsistent. Carlos Frias, who started the month as the team’s fifth starter, is on the disabled list. Frias was replaced by Brandon Beachy and, later, Zach Lee, neither of whom inspired confidence.
“I think we’re optimistic we’ll be able to do something,” General Manager Farhan Zaidi said. “You just never know until something is done. Based on where our conversations are, we’re optimistic.”
The trade market has started to define itself, according to Zaidi.
“The matchup of buyers and sellers is starting to happen,” he said. “We’re continuing to have active conversations with a bunch of different clubs.”
Front-line pitchers Johnny Cueto and Scott Kazmir are off the market, having been traded in recent days to the Kansas City Royals and Houston Astros, respectively.
Possible remaining targets for the Dodgers include Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies, David Price of the Detroit Tigers, Yovani Gallardo of the Texas Rangers, Jeff Samardzija of Chicago White Sox, and James Shields, Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner of the San Diego Padres.
Left-hander Brett Anderson (5-5, 3.33 earned-run average) will start for the Dodgers against the Oakland Athletics and All-Star right-hander Sonny Gray (10-4, 2.30) at Dodger Stadium at 7:10 p.m. TV: SportsNetLA. Radio: 570, 1020.
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