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Yasiel Puig likely headed to minors after Dodgers trade for Josh Reddick, Rich Hill

Yasiel Puig
Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig looks on from the dugout against Washington on July 21.
(Nick Wass / Associated Press)

Dormant for so much of 2016, the discord between mercurial outfielder Yasiel Puig and the Dodgers burst into public view on Monday after Puig learned he probably would be sent to the minor leagues.

Puig did not travel with the Dodgers on the team’s charter flight to Denver during the afternoon, casting doubt on his future within the organization and overshadowing a series of additions to the roster at the trade deadline.

In the morning, the Dodgers finalized a deal for Oakland outfielder Josh Reddick and starting pitcher Rich Hill in exchange for a trio of pitching prospects. The addition of Reddick strengthened the lineup. The acquisition of the left-handed Hill provided the starting rotation with one of the most effective pitchers in baseball this year, although he is on the disabled list because of a blister on his pitching hand.

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Yet the focus still landed upon Puig. Fed up with his declining production at the plate, the Dodgers relayed to Puig’s representatives over the weekend that the team intended to either trade him before Monday’s deadline or demote him to the minors.

Able to acquire Reddick but unable to move Puig, the Dodgers informed Puig not to report to Dodger Stadium for the trip to face the Colorado Rockies, according to people familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity because the Dodgers would not discuss the situation. Puig obliged the request.

Neither Andrew Friedman, the team’s president of baseball operations, nor General Manager Farhan Zaidi offered a comment on Puig’s status. Adam Katz, Puig’s agent, released a statement after a report that depicted Puig creating a scene at the ballpark before the flight.

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“The club informed me,” Katz wrote, “and the player understood clearly that they were making every effort to trade him and that if they were unable to come to terms with another club on a trade — and successful in acquiring another outfielder — that he likely would be demoted. My understanding is that transaction will happen tomorrow.”

The maneuver reveals Puig’s reduced status in an organization that once perished the idea of trading him. Ineffective at the plate and diminished athletically, Puig has a career-worst .706 on-base-plus-slugging percentage this season. He spent nearly three weeks on the disabled list in June with a strained hamstring. An additional hamstring issue kept him on the bench for most of last week.

Puig returned to action Sunday and had three hits, including two doubles, drove in two runs and scored twice. He has an .831 OPS since returning from the disabled list on June 21.

But the Dodgers still pushed to deal him in recent weeks. They found an industry lacking legitimate interest and brimming with low-ball offers. Rather than accept a light return for Puig, the team apparently chose to send him to the minors. The affiliate was not announced.

While on a conference call to discuss the trades, Zaidi declined to discuss Puig’s absence from the flight. 

“We have an off day today,” Zaidi said. “Anything further, we’ll address and comment on tomorrow.

“As far as our outfield picture, this is a team that is not unfamiliar to having healthy depth in the outfield. We’re just going to take it day by day, and put out the lineup that gives us the best chance to win.”

Reddick, 29, represents an upgrade over Puig at the plate. A left-handed hitter, he has a .955 OPS against right-handers this season. However, his OPS against left-handers is only .426.

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Josh Reddick rounds second for Oakland against Cleveland on July 30.
Josh Reddick rounds second for Oakland against Cleveland on July 30.
(Jason Miller / Getty Images )

Hill, 36, is an intriguing gamble. After pitching in independent leagues last summer, he has become one of the game’s most effective pitchers. Through 14 starts this season, he posted a 2.25 earned-run average and limited opposing hitters to a .559 OPS.

The dilemma with Hill involves a patch of damaged skin on the middle finger of his left hand. A blister formed there in July and popped during a start on July 17, and he was placed on the disabled list. He is eligible to come off the DL on Thursday, but Zaidi indicated the Dodgers were unsure when Hill could retake the mound. 

“We don’t have an exact timetable on that, but obviously his availability in the short term was an important part of us moving ahead on this deal,” Zaidi said. “So we feel pretty good about it, but we don’t have an exact date for when he’d be out there for us.”

To acquire Reddick and Hill, the Dodgers shipped right-handers Frankie Montas, Jharel Cotton and Grant Holmes to Oakland. In a pair of smaller deals, the Dodgers acquired reliever Jesse Chavez from Toronto in exchange for Mike Bolsinger and received reliever Josh Fields from Houston for minor league first baseman Yordan Alvarez.

A survey of rival scouts and executives praised the Dodgers for parting with prospects, acknowledging both the quality and the risk inherent in the players headed to Oakland. Montas can touch 100 mph with his fastball. Cotton represented the Dodgers at the Futures Game last month. Holmes was a first-round pick in 2014.

But all three could end up as relievers. Montas has missed the majority of 2016 because of rib-cage injuries. Cotton has a 4.90 ERA for triple-A Oklahoma City. Holmes has struggled to throw strikes with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga.

The final grade on Friedman’s moves may revolve around Hill’s blister. If healthy, Hill can lead the rotation should Clayton Kershaw not return from his herniated disk. Reddick can replicate Puig’s defense in right and surpass his performance at the plate.

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But Puig’s future with the Dodgers remains cloudy. The team rode his brilliance to the playoffs in 2013. His breakout convinced the organization to market him as a star and entrust him with pillar-of-the-franchise status.

Three years later, Puig’s performance no longer matches the spotlight that tracks his movements. The Dodgers could not ship him out on Monday. On Tuesday, they are expected to send him down.

andy.mccullough@latimes.com

Twitter: @McCulloughTimes

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UPDATES:

7:35 p.m.: This article has been updated throughout.

11:40 a.m.: This article was updated with the Dodgers announcing the trade.

10:40 a.m.: This article has been updated with background on the Dodgers’ prospects included in the trade.

This article was originally published at 10:20 a.m.


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